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*C    237    335 





2nd  Battn.  Scots  Guards 

Privately  printed 
1 916 

The  nature  of  these  letters  is  clear  at  the  first  glance.  They  are  simply 
a  record  of  the  earlier  months  of  the  war  from  the  point  of  view  of  a 
young  officer  of  the  English  Expeditionary  Force.  But  they  possess 
both  interest  and  importance  apart  from  the  fact  that  in  these  months 
the  first  swift  onrush  of  the  Germans  towards  Paris  was  repulsed,  and, 
perhaps,  the  issue  of  the  whole  war  decided.  They  are  written  with 
accuracy  because  Edward  Hulse,  who  was  in  the  heart  of  the  retreat  from 
Mons,  the  turn  and  triumph  of  the  Marne,  and  the  beginning  of  the 
long  station  at  the  Aisne,  rarely  turns  aside  from  the  story  of  his  own 
experiences  ;  they  are  written  with  ease  because,  without  exception,  they 
were  written  to  his  mother  without  a  thought  of  publication.  The  life 
of  an  officer  at  one  or  other  of  our  varied  fronts  from  the  first  disembarka- 
tion to  the  struggle  at  Neuve  Chapelle,  whether  in  billets,  in  hospital, 
at  the  base,  or  in  the  trenches,  is  here  touched  in  with  a  convincing  because 
unconscious  hand,  and  with  a  fullness  of  detail  that  is  invaluable. 

The  writer  of  these  letters  had  a  sense  both  of  perspective  and  of 
humour, — without  which  all  records  are  but  as  the  dry  bones  of  the  events 
they  chronicle.  For  example,  the  rapid  and  careless  pen-sketches  that 
describe  the  work  of  a  night  raid,  the  reception  of  a  prisoner,  the  excite- 
ment of  a  sniping  party,  the  confusion  at  Havre,  and  a  dozen  other 
incidents  of  that  crowded  half-year  are  every  one  of  them  admirable. 
But  there  is  something  else  in  these  letters  which  is  of  even  greater 
interest.  Without  hesitation  it  may  be  said  that  in  the  fourteen  pages 
under  the  date  December  28  th  we  have  the  most  keenly  noted,  vigorous 
and  dramatic  description  that  ever  has  or  ever  will  be  written  of  what 
from  a  psychological  point  of  view  has  been  the  most  extraordinary  event 



of  the  war, — the  Christmas  Truce  of  19 14.  In  its  mere  literary  aspect 
it  is  as  perfect  as  anything  written  from  the  front :  and  as  a  human 
document  it  is  of  even  greater  value. 

No  reader  of  this  short  autobiography, — for  it  is  nothing  less, — will 
fail  to  recognise  the  difference  that  distinguishes  these  Christmas  letters 
from  that  first  keen  report  of  current  gossip  and  opinion  in  London 
written  from  the  Bachelors'  Club  on  the  eve  of  the  war.  The  develop- 
ment that  has  taken  place  in  the  writer  under  the  stress  of  a  new  and 
hard  life  of  direct  responsibility  is  clear  in  every  line  of  them,  and  though, 
no  doubt,  it  is  typical  of  a  similar  growth  in  most  of  the  junior  officers 
at  the  front,  there  are  probably  few  other  cases  in  which  this  self- 
development  has  been  recorded  as  continuously  and  as  fully,  and  fewer 
still  in  which  such  a  story  has  been  unfolded  in  a  series  of  letters  to  one 
recipient,  almost  every  word  of  which  could  be  and  is  here  reproduced. 
Essentially,  the  man  remains  the  same  throughout.  The  letters  begin 
with  the  free  criticisms  and  soldier-like  impatience  of  a  young  officer: 
they  end  on  the  same  note  with  as  clearly  expressed  an  opinion  of  the 
unpatriotic  influences  at  work  in  England.  But  the  tale  of  work  done 
between  the  writing  of  the  two  has  not  only  given  him  the  better  right 
to  speak,  but  has  added  weight  to  the  form  in  which  his  protest  is 
moulded.  He  writes  the  first  letter  as  any  Guardsman  full  of  the  spirit 
of  his  corps  might  have  written  it.  In  his  last  long  letter  his  estimate 
of  the  fighting  value  of  the  as  yet  untried  and  roughly  disciplined 
Canadians  shows  how  far  he  had  gone  in  the  power  of  summing  up  a 
man's  essentials  at  a  glance. 

But  there  will  be  many  who  will  read  these  pages  with  an  eye  to  the 
development  neither  of  the  soldier  nor  of  the  writer ;  many  to  whom 
the  value  of  truthful  observation  and  an  unfailing  record  of  it  will  be 
of  less  interest  and  account  than  the  self-revelation  of  the  personal 
character  of  Edward  Hulse  himself.  Of  this  it  is  almost  unnecessary 
to  write  here.  Those  who  in  the  first  instance  will  read  this  small  volume 
will  have  known  him  personally.  Those  into  whose  hands  it  will  come 
in  later  years  will  be  dull  if  they  need  more  to  be  told  them  of  Edward 


Hulse  than  is  suggested  in  the  letters  in  this  book.     He  was  a  man  of 

much  charm  and  of  many  friends.     In  the  hour  of  trial  he  developed 

into  a  resourceful  and  capable  officer  to  whom  his  men  were  devoted. 

Having  done  his  work  steadily  up  to  the  last  minute,  he  was  killed  at 

Neuve  Chapelle.     His  commanding  officer  fell  severely  wounded,  and 

Edward  Hulse,  after  making  his  way  across  to  him  in  the  open  and  doing 

what  he  could  to  help  him,  was  killed  in  rejoining  his  men. 

These  letters,  though  they  contain  not  a  line  of  the  introspection 

which  so  often  characterises  messages  from  the  front,  are  his  real  memorial. 

Perhaps,  in  years  to  come,  after  the  dust  and  turmoil  of  the  war  has  died 

down,  of  those  who  lay  this  little  volume  down  there  will  be  the  greater 

number  who  will  do  it  with  the  thought  in  their  minds  that  a  man  who 

is  indeed  a  judge  of  men  once  expressed.     He  read  but  one  of  these 

letters,   packed  with  incident  and  picturesque  detail,   redolent  of  the 

very  clay  and  tense  life  of  the  trenches,  and  full  of  exact  and  valuable 

information  :  but  his  only  comment  was,  "  I  should  like  to  have  known 

that  man." 

Perceval  Landon. 

S/r  Edward  Hamilton  Westrow  Hulse,  Bt.,  was  the  only  child  of 
Sir  Edward  Henry  Hulse,  Bt.,  of  Breamore  House,  Hants,  and  the  Hon. 
Lady  Hulse,  only  daughter  of  the  first  Lord  Burnham.  He  was  born 
at  26  Upper  Brook  St.,  Westminster,  on  August  3is£,  1889,  and  was 
christened  at  Breamore.  He  succeeded  his  father  in  1903.  As  a  child  he 
attended  Mr.  Marcon's  school  at  Beaconsfleld,  and  afterwards  went  to  Mr. 
A.  Max-Wilkinson's  at  Warren  Hill,  Eastbourne,  Sussex.  In  1903  he  entered 
Mr.  R.  S.  Kindersley's  house  at  Eton,  and  afterwards  matriculated  at  Balliol 
College,  Oxford,  in  1907,  taking  his  degree  in  1912. 

After  a  period  of  training  with  the  Coldstream  Guards,  he  was  given  a 
commission  in  the  1st  Battn.  Scots  Guards  on  March  8th,  1913,  and  went  to  the 
front  at  Mons  with  it  in  August  1914.  In  November  he  was  transferred 
to  the  2nd  Battn.,  and  remained  in  it  until  his  death. 

Captain  Sir  Edward  Hulse  was  killed  at  Neuve  Chapelle  on  March  1.2th, 
1915,  and  a  tablet  recording  the  manner  of  his  death  was  put  up  to  his  memory 
in  the  Cathedral  by  the  citizens  of  Salisbury.  This  tablet  was  dedicated  by 
the  Bishop  of  Salisbury  on  March  11th,  1916. 

Bachelors'  Club,  Piccadilly, 
Sunday,  {Aug.  2  :   19 14). 

My  Dearest  Mother, 

Just  got  up  for  few  hours.  Lunched  and  went  to  Tower 
afterwards,  where  I  found  them  all  very  busy,  and  mobilization  machinery 
complete  and  ready  to  be  set  in  motion  at  moment's  notice. 

Find  general  opinion  is  as  follows  : — Asquith,  George  and 
Churchill  are  in  favour  of  intervention  and  whole-hearted  support 
of  France.  Haldane  and  all  the  rest  are  against  it,  and  are  ready 
to  work  hard  (with  the  power  of  Labour  and  Syndicalism  and  threat 
of  national  strikes,  etc.)  to  get  Asquith  to  climb  down.  Overwhelm- 
ing opinion  amongst  the  "  man  in  the  street,"  that  we  must  help 
France.  It  is  not  a  question  of  national  honour  any  longer,  but  of 
national  welfare  and  actual  life  in  the  future.  If  we  climb  down  (which 
is  thought  almost  impossible,  as  it  is  completely  unthinkable)  then  we 
must  be  done.  Canada  might  join  U.S.A.,  Australia  set  up  on  its  own, 
anything,  in  short,  might  be  the  outcome  of  such  a  degrading  performance. 
As  you  will  see,  abroad  all  socialists  and  syndicalists  have  regretted 
mobilization,  but  state  that,  as  it  is  an  accomplished  fact,  it  is  the  duty  of 
every  man,  etc. — in  fact,  patriotism.  If  we  can't  do  the  same,  we  had 
better  go  to  bed  ! 

Italy  is  a  very  big  thing  for  France  and  for  us,  if  only  we  get  a  move 
on.  France  can  move  the  large  number  of  troops  held  in  S.E.  on  the 
Italian  frontier  to  her  Eastern  German  frontier,  and  thereby  strengthen 
her  lines.  Mediterranean  becomes  virtually  a  British  Sea,  and  Adriatic  is 
easily  bottled  up.     We  are  left  free,  as  far  as  fleet  is  concerned,  to  look 

after  our  own  and  France's  interests  in  home  waters.  I  believe  that  we 
now  extend  from  Cromarty  in  the  North  to  Dover,  and  are  only  waiting 
for  the  German  ships  to  show  their  noses.  If  they  do,  we  then  ask  them 
their  business  and  where  they  are  going,  to  which  they  probably  would 
not  reply,  and  then  comes  the  fight.  I  doubt  their  leaving  their  harbours 
for  some  time,  as  they  say  they  are  not  ready  yet.  If  only  we  let  our 
fleet  carry  on,  we  are  all  right,  though  the  man-in-the-street  in  France,  of 
course  expects  us  to  go  the  whole  hog  !  As  far  as  the  French  authorities 
are  concerned,  they  want  our  fleet,  and  would  like  a  force  also  ;  they 
don't  want  numbers  ;  ten  boy  Scouts  and  British  flag  is  all  that  is 
wanted.  The  whole  thing  lies  in  the  moral  support  and  the  fact  of 
the  British  flag  assisting  on  French  soil.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  1 20,000 
or  160,000  troops  from  us  at  Maubeuge  would  mean  a  very  real 
help  to  France,  although  people  talk  about  our  army  as  a  drop  in  the 
ocean.  At  present,  granted  that  Germany  will  violate  the  neutrality 
of  Belgium,  France  must  prolong  and  therefore  weaken  her  lines  to 
a  certain  extent. 

There  are  only  two  ways  of  a  flanking  movement  for  Germany  : — 

I.  By  Sea; 
II.  By  Belgium. 
The  first  we  ought  to  be  able  to  settle,  the  second  we  should  be  able  to 
assist  France  very  materially  in  preventing  by  the  above  mentioned  force. 
For  every  man  we  send  over  there  (apart  from  the  moral  support  which 
it  means)  Germany  must  tell  off  so  many  more  to  face  us.  France  would 
be  able  to  contract  her  lines  by  that  amount,  and  therefore  strengthen 
them.  That,  taken  into  consideration  with  the  large  forces  set  free  in 
the  south  of  France  by  Italy,  means  a  big  thing  for  France  and  a  very 
heavy  blow  for  Germany. 

Churchill  has  leaped  up  by  bounds  in  popularity,  and  as  his  action 
and  the  war-like  spirit  is  compatible  with  his  popularity  and  personal 
advancement,  I  imagine  he  is  to  be  trusted  to  do  the  right  thing  absolutely. 
There  are  fears  of  his  resigning  to-morrow,  if  things  go  wrong  in  the 
Cabinet  and  in  the  House. 

As  you  know,  they  say  that  Grey  has  been  playing  the  double  game, 
threatening  Germany  with  all  our  forces  thrown  against  her,  and  holding 
out  to  France,  at  the  same  time  no  hopes  of  help.  He  must  decide 
soon,  and  is  at  present  for  climbing  down.  Prevalent  opinion  is  that 
the  Stock  Exchange  closed  three  days  too  late,  and  that  we  have  done 
everything  three  days  too  late.  Why  the  devil  we  can't  get  our 
mobilization  orders  out,  instead  of  talk,  talk,  talk  and  nothing  done, 
goodness  only  knows.  No  one  can  any  longer  say  that  it  is  an 
aggressive  action  as  everyone  else  has  done  it,  and  it  would  merely  be 
precautionary  ;  we  have  not  got  the  practice  in  handling  big  things  that 
France  and  Germany  have,  and  the  sooner  we  get  a  move  on,  the  better 
prepared  we  shall  be  for  being  in  the  right  place  at  the  right  time,  if 
events  demand  it,  instead  of  putting  in  an  appearance  a  fortnight  late,  as 
we  probably  should  do. 

Woolwich  mobilized  to-day,  but  we  still  remain  on  the  old  marshes. 
The  mosquitoes  have  assembled  in  myriads,  and  are  peculiarly  poisonous, 
and  very  painful.  Everything  going  well  and  in  shipshape  order  there, 
and  the  Adjutant  rather  pleased  with  himself! 

Carson  and  Bonar  Law  just  dined  here,  next  to  me.  The  former 
determined  and  very  serious,  the  latter  rather  flustered  to  look  at.  They 
say  there  will  be  a  big  scene  in  the  House  to-morrow,  as  war  and  peace- 
parties  about  equal.  It  makes  one  hot  all  over  to  think  of  the  peace-at- 
any-price  party  being  so  strong  at  this  juncture. 

Probably  things  will  have  happened  to  modify  or  alter  the  gist  of 
this  letter  by  to-morrow. 

Very  best  love,  no  time  for  more. 

Ever  your  loving 


P.S. — Large  crowd  just  passed  down  Piccadilly  cheering  a  French 
Tricolour  ! 

Ramillies  Barracks,  Aldershot, 

12. 8. 14. 
My  Dearest  Mother, 

We  start  to-night,  about  midnight,  but  do  not  know  desti- 
nation or  anything  yet. 

The  whole  of  the  2nd  Division  has  gone,  and  the  4th  Guards' 
Brigade  went  from  London  this  morning.  We  only  heard  yesterday 
that  ten  or  fifteen  thousand  troops  are  already  over  the  Channel. 
Troops  have  been  leaving  here  throughout  the  last  two  nights. 

I  have  delivered  myself  of  three  'eavy  lectures  to  my  platoon,  on 
everything  from  the  general  situation,  no  quarter  and  discipline  down 
to  French  money,  etc.  The  Colonel's  instructions  as  to  behaviour  for 
the  battalion  are  "  Towards  all  inhabitants  kindness  and  a  helping  hand, 
towards  all  womankind,  courtesy,  but  no  intimacy." 

Any  message  which  you  see  fit  to  convey  to  Breamore,  as  a  whole, 
please  construct  yourself,  and  tell  them  that  I  look  to  them  to  set  an 
example  in  the  matter  of  duty  to  their  King  and  Country,  whether  at 
home  or  abroad. 

Very  best  love  and  same  to  O.  M.     Tell  her  that  the  General  is 

grand.     Don't  expect  too  frequent  letters. 

Ever  your  loving 


Left  Aldershot,  4  a.m.,  August  1.2th,  1914.1 


Southampton,  )  .  .     . 

\  10  hours.     Arrived  midnight. 
Havre,  ) 

Rest  Camp  on  heights  above  Harfleur.     Aug.  13th.     Left  at  9  p.m. 

1  The  notes  here  printed  in  italics  are  taken  from  a  rough  diary  made  by  Capt.  Sir  Edward 
Hulse  during  his  convalescence  at  Havre,  to  replace  a  diary  lost  by  him  during  the  retreat  from 
Mons.     They  are  printed,  obvious  slips  excepted,  as  he  wrote  them. 


Aug.  14th.  Marched  down  to  station  and  entrained  at  3  a.m.  ;  arrived 
at  Rouen,  8  a.m.     Then  Amiens. 

Aug.  15th.  Albert,  Arras,  Cambrai.  Tremendous  reception.  Embrace 
particularly  good-looking  girls,  who  load  us  with  sweets,  smokes,  coffee, 
and  souvenirs.  Army  arrives  at  detraining  point  without  any  badges,  all 
given  as  souvenirs. 

Aug.  15th.  Detrain  at  Le  Nouvion  (through  Le  Cateau).  48  trains 
up  to  time,  only  one  late.  Marched  to  Boue.  Billeting  and  practised  route 
marches  in  great  heat  for  four  days.  Lived  in  extreme  luxury,  and  people 
did  everything  in  their  power  for  us. 

Aug.  2.0th  ?  Marched  by  Bergues,  Barzy  to  Cartignies.  Billeted  and 
moved  on  by  Dompierre,  Dourlers  to  Eclaibes.  From  Eclaibes  struck  big 
Paris-Maubeuge  road,  and  marching  through  Maubeuge  at  10.30  p.m., 
struck  half -right  (N.E.)  to  Grand  Reng  (Belgium),  and  billeted  after  very 
long  and  tiring  22  mile  march. 

O.A.  Service, 

My  Dearest  Mother, 

All  well  and  flourishing,  pretty  hot  and  grand  sweat  every- 
day. Nothing  definite  allowed  in  this  letter  at  all,  but  will  write  as 
soon  as  we  are  allowed  to  send  news. 

We  can  do  with  all  the  news  you  can  give  us  and  have  received 
a  post  already. 

We  are  going  to  celebrate  Bill's  coming  of  age  to  the  best  of  our 
ability,  especially  as  it  coincides  with  another  officer's  birthday  as  well. 
Very  best  love  to  all. 

Ever  your  loving 


Aug.  24th.  First  heard  sound  of  guns  this  morning  and  were  hurried 
out  at  4  a.m.  to  position  between,  and  just  south  of  line,  Mons-Binche. 
Dug  good  trenches  and  heard  second  Division  being  hammered  on  left  near 
Mons,  and  the  French  being  hammered  on  our  right  ;  these  were  the  two 
French  Territorial  Divisions  which  fell  back  in  disorder  and  completely 
uncovered  our  right  flank.  {The  Generals  were  cashiered  subsequently  by 
Joffre,  I  believe.)  Orders  arrived  to  retire  and  we  only  realised  afterwards 
that  we  had  been  in  a  tight  place,  and  if  the  Germans  had  known  our 
small  numbers,  they  could  have  got  at  us.  This  was  the  Northernmost  point 
which  we  reached. 

Aug.  2$th.  We  retired  {yesterday)  round  Maubeuge  by  N.  and  W.  sides,  and 
billeted  in  La  Longueville.  Marched  to  Dompierre  to  billet,  through  St.  Remy. 
No  room  for  S.G.  so  we  went  to  Taisnieres.  Billeted  in  dark  with  my  4  C.Q.M.S. 
when  two  Frenchmen  reported  50  German  cavalry  in  village  of  Noyelles  and 
nothing  between  us.  Part  of  our  transport  came  in  at  that  moment  ;  luckily  had 
field  ready  for  them  ;  got  them  in,  and  together  with  drivers,  etc.,  got  together 
15  men  ;  had  all  cigarettes,  etc.,  put  out,  and  took  up  position  on  either  side 
of  road  with  200  yds.  field  of  fire  and  awaited  battalion  ;  Germans  never  came 
on,  as  we  found  out  from  refugees  that  they  were  far  too  busy  with  the  liquor 
in  Noyelles. 

Aug.  26th.  On  to  Grand  Fayt,  Grand  Debout  and  Erruart,  billeting  in 

Aug.  2jth.  Went  out  and  took  up  rearguard  position  along  W assigny-Oisy 
road  ;  no  fighting,  and  fell  back  on  Etreux,  where  my  Coy.  was  rearguard  of 
whole  Division.  We  had  to  block  all  roads  till  42nd  had  fallen  back  through 
us,  and  information  came  to  us  that  a  German  cavalry  Bde.  had  got  round  and 
were  in  Forest  of  Nouvion  on  our  flank.  As  soon  as  our  retiring  column  got 
on  to  heights  above  Etreux,  after  leaving  latter  and  blowing  up  bridge,  the  enemy 
shelled  the  road  Etreux- J erusalem  from  about  Dorengt,  and  their  dismounted 
cavalry  came  up  through  corn  and  maize  to  within  600  yds.  and  fired  on  us. 
Only  two  men  of  42nd  and  two  of  ours  wounded.  {My  rearguard,  first  blood, 
Munsters,  170  turned  up  only.)     Line  of  retirement  then  followed. 

Aug.  28th.     By  Guise  cross-country  to  Nouvion  Ic  Comte,  Danizy. 
Aug.  29th.     La  Fere,  Frcssancourt,  Missancourt,  St.  Gobain. 

(St.  Gobain)  29.8.14. 
My  Dearest  Mother, 

In  very  best  of  health  and  great  form,  as  also  is  Bill.  Have 
had  our  baptism  of  shrapnel  and  rifle  fire.  Unfortunately  we  are  allowed 
to  say  no  more. 

Please  ask  F.  L.  Smith,  12  Burlington  Gardens  (Albany  Cigarette 
people)  to  send  me  twice  a  week  a  box  of  25  of  the  cigarettes  which  they 
supply  me  with  generally.     The  address  you  know  : — 

On  Active  Service, 
c/o  G.P.O. 
Have    had    no   letter    from   anyone    yet,    have   you   received    three 
from  me  ? 

Very  best  love  to  all  at  Breamore. 

Ever  your  loving 


Aug.  30th.   St.  Gobain,  Septvaux,  Coucy,  {Alternant.    Aug.  31st.)  Soissons, 

{Sep.  1.)  Left  for  Viller s-C otter ets,  La  Ferte  Milon  and  dug  ourselves  in 
just  south  of  latter  for  night,  but  moved  on  at  1.30  a.m.  {Sep.  2)  to  Neuf- 
chelles  and  Chambry.  Heard  we  were  going  on  to  Meaux  and  Fontainebleau, 
but  {Sep.  3)  struck  off  S.E.  by  forest  of  Meaux  to  La  Ferte  and  fouarre. 
Peckham  bought  jug  for  company.  Billeted  whole  battalion  in  Benedictine 
Monastery  which  had  been  dismantled  completely  two  months  before  owing 
to  threat  of  State  taking  over.     Room  for  2,500  men  in  building.     {Sep.  4.) 


Marched  to  Coulommiers,  where  we  did  ourselves  proud  for  12  hours,  but  had 

alarm  at  midnight,  when  Uhlans  rode  full  pelt  into outposts.     They  lost 

their  heads  and  fired  all  over  the  place,  and  therefore  only  took  few  prisoners 
(4  and  killed  3)  when  by  lying  quiet  and  letting  them  come  on  they  might  have 
bagged  a  lot. 

(Coulommiers)  4.9.14. 
My  Dearest  Mother, 

Just  arrived  for  24  hours'  rest.     We  have  fairly  been  moving, 

and  great  heat  and  tired  feet  are  the  chief  inconveniences.     However, 

have    never   been   fitter   and   feel   first    rate.     All   the   officers   of  the 

Battalion  are  in  the  best  of  health.     Our  men  have  fought  d — d  well 

under  trying  circumstances  and  the  discipline  in  the  battalion  has  been 


The  general  opinion  is  that  we  have  done  a  difficult  and  very  big 

thing   and   the    French   are    (rightly)    grateful    beyond    all    power    of 

expression.     More  I  may  not  say. 

Very  best  love  to  all. 

Ever  your  loving 


{Sep.  5.)  By  Pezarches  and  Ormeaux  to  Nesles  ;  (outposts).  (Sep.  6.)  At 
Nesles  the  turning  point  was  reached  and  we  took  the  offensive.  Went  by 
Voinsles.  At  Plessis  (Sep.  7)  the  Coldstream  got  hammered  a  bit,  as  they 
went  forward  before  our  guns  were  in  position.  We  were  well  shelled,  and 
one  burst  on  road  close  to  B.  Coy.  officers  lunching.  Peck  was  hard  at 
it  with  vin  rouge,  and  did  not  even  remove  bottle  from  his  mouth.  First 
saw  German  infantry  in  motor  lorries  at  distance  of  about  three  miles.  We 
shelled  them,  also  shelled  farm  with  howitzers  ;  first  shell  landed  in  farm  and 


about  50  German  cyclists  came  rushing  out  and  started  pedalling  down 
road  for  all  they  were  worth.  Saw  this  through  my  glasses  plainly. 
Meantime  we  had  left  trenches  which  we  had  dug  under  shell-fire,  when 
Coldstream  had  to  fall  back,  and  continued  our  advance,  by  Pressbucy, 
point  135,  Chevru,  Choisy,  (Sep.  8th,  La  Frenois)  and  La  Ferte  Gaucher  to 
Bellot.  (Sep.  gth,  Basseville)  In  the  advance  we  started  with  the  French 
$th  Army  on  our  right,  then  our  1st  Army,  2nd,  then  French  6th  and  yth 
Armies  on  our  left,  near  Compiegne  and  Amiens. 

About  this  time,  owing  to  defective  French  cavalry  scouting,  we  got 
shelled  descending  through  a  village  in  column  of  route.  Coldstream  had  a 
man  badly  hit,  and  he  was  taken  back  400  yds.  and  attended  to  on  stretcher 
in  middle  of  road.  (D — d  silly  thing  to  do.)  After  a  minute  or  two, 
another  shell  came  and  landed  plumb  on  this  unfortunate  devil ;  killed 
him,  blew  stretcher  to  bits,  killed  two  stretcher-bearers  and  wounded  two  more 
and  the  Coldstream  M.O.  badly.  This  happened  within  15  yds.  of  seven  of  us 
officers  sitting  by  the  road  ;  luckily  it  was  faulty  burst. 

We  now  began  to  see  real  signs  of  retreat.  Dead  horses  and  men  (German, 
French  and  English)  and  abandoned  limbers.  All  villages  looted,  and  most 
noticeable  thing  was  enormous  quantity  of  broken  bottles.  Went  by  Sablonnieres 
to  Hondevilliers.  Saw  composite  regiment  (Household  cavalry,  etc.)  for  first 
time.     They  retired  in  evening  through  my  platoon  on  outpost. 

(Sep.  10.)  From  Hondevilliers  across  Marne  at  Nogent  VArtaud  and 
by  Charly  to  Bouresches,  Belleau  and  Latilly.  (Sep.  11.)  When  we  got  to 
Latilly  the  French  5th  Army  passed  across  our  front  from  right  to  left,  and  our 
complete  Army  moved  right-handed  (eastwards)  to  tap  the  right  of  a  German 
Army  which  had  been  heavily  hammered  by  the  French  at  Chalons.  But  they 
fell  back  too  quickly  for  us,  and  their  line  being  reconstructed  and  no  flank 
open  to  attack,  we  turned  North  again  to  the  Aisne  and  pursued  their  forces 
retiring  on  to  the  Aisne. 

Heard  of  big  German  reverse  at  Chalons  and  whole  Army  moved  hurriedly 
eastwards.  French  $th  Army  crossed  our  front  by  night.  Moved  by  La  Croix, 
Nanteuil,  Bruyeres  (Sep.  12)  to  Fere  en  Tardenois,  eastwards,  when  move- 
ment northwards  was  resumed. 


From  here  we  found  ground  foul,  doorsteps  and  even  inside  of  houses  fouled 
on  purpose  by  Germans.  By  Mareuil,  Chery,  Mont  Notre  Dame  and  Bazoches 
skirting  Fismes  to  Courcelles.  All  this  time  battle  of  Aisne  was  preparing, 
but  we  did  not  know  whether  Germans  were  only  preparing  rearguard  action, 
in  order  to  save  their  supplies  at  Soissons  (it  had  been  their  advanced  base  and 
contained  heavy  siege-guns  for  Paris),  or  whether  it  was  a  big  position. 

Sept.  13th.  Turned  N.E.  to  Villers-en-Prayeres  and  crossed  the  Aisne 
at  Bourg  to  Giuilly,  over  an  aqueduct,  with  two  shell  holes  in  it  (the  bridge  had 
been  very  effectually  destroyed  by  French  in  their  original  retreat).  So  little 
did  our  senior  officers  suspect  what  was  in  front  that  we  had  orders  to  march 
to  a  place  behind  the  present  German  position,  which  we  have  not  yet  got  to  ! 
(Oct.  5th.) 

We  advanced  over  the  high  ground  among  Turcos  and  Spahis  above  (Euilly 
in  artillery  formation  about  6  p.m.  under  shrapnel  fire. 

Houldsworth  killed,  and  fack  Corbett  had  his  pack  torn  clean  from  his 
back.  Later  in  the  evening  famie  Balfour  and  several  machine  gunners  wounded. 
Billeted  after  retiring  |  mile,  in  Paissy  (just  to  north  of  (Euilly) . 

Sept.  14th.  Advanced  with  same  orders,  namely  to  march  to  place  several 
miles  ahead,  in  heavy  mist.  Had  only  gone  i\  miles  when  we  found  we  were 
in  a  big  fight.  Deployed  and  the  big  fight  of  the  Aisne  began.  In  the  mist 
the  Germans  allowed  us  to  take  the  apparently  strong  line  of  hills  above  Vendresse. 
We  advanced  over  them  into  the  valley  beyond,  and  found  ourselves  up  against 
the  position  from  which  they  have  not  moved  since.  As  the  mist  cleared  off, 
we  retired  on  to  the  line  of  heights  above  Vendresse,  from  2  m.  E.  of  Beaulne 
to  2  m.  E.  of  Vendresse,  where  we  hung  on  till  the  19th,  when  relieved  by  6th 

18. 9. 14. 
My  Dearest  Mother, 

Have  not  been  able  to  send  a  letter  for  9  days.     Am  now 

writing  in  an  old  cave  (stone  quarry)  and  it  is  the  fifth  day  of  this  battle 

— continuous.     I  cannot  say  where  or  anything  about  casualties,  except  that 


Carpenter-Garnier,  young  "  Bones  "  and  Thornhill  are  killed.  Bill  and 
self  well  as  can  be.  The  very  hot  weather  during  our  retreat  from 
Belgium,  has  given  place  to  cold,  wind  and  sheets  of  rain,  but  thank 
goodness  we  have  got  fairly  dry  to-day. 

Thanks  ever  so  much  for  your  wire  on  31st,  received  by  me  on  14th, 
and  for  foot-grease,  pipes,  tobacco  and  cigarettes.  They  arrived  when 
we  had  absolutely  nothing  left,  and  only  one  box  of  matches  amongst  our 
officers  and  men,  B  Coy.  (about  200  of  us).  We  split  open  cartridges 
and  use  the  cordite  as  matches  now. 

I  cannot  understand  your  not  having  received  a  letter.  I  have  sent 
five,  but  heard  that  400  bags  of  our  mails  had  to  be  burnt,  which  may 
account  for  it.  George  and  John  Manners  are  in  the  2nd  Division  and 
quite  separate  from  us,  so  probably  had  facilities  which  we  had  not. 

You  evidently  did  not  get  my  letter  telling  you  of  our  baptism  or 
rifle  and  shrapnel  fire  ;  we  got  it  first  on and  have  had  it  inter- 
mittently ever  since  up  to  the  14th  ;  on  that  day  the  genuine  battle  began 
for  us,  and  we  have  been  shelled  all  day  and  every  day,  and  some  of  the 
nights  ever  since.  We  are  entrenched  within  about  a  1000  yards  of  each 
other  and  get  in  with  the  rifle  now  and  then  at  small  parties.  I  can't 
say  anything  definite,  as  otherwise  you  will  not  get  this  letter,  owing  to 
censorship.  Our  men  are  grand,  and  the  Germans  are  more  uncomfort- 
able with  us  in  front  than  with  anyone  else. 

During  our  strategical  retirement  we  did  ten  days'  big  marching,  and 
the  Battalion  stuck  it  better  than  anyone  else  we  saw,  owing,  I  think,  to 
discipline.     The  Colonel  is  slightly  wounded,  as  also  several  officers. 

The  most  unpleasant  work  I  have  had  so  far  is  being  escort  to  our 
guns,  which  of  course  draw  all  fire,  including  that  of  the  German  heavy 
siege  gun,  which  was  meant  for  the  siege  of  Paris,  which  they  were  so 
certain  of  reaching  ! 

I  have  acted  throughout  as  officers'  cook  and  messman  for  my  com- 
pany, and  on  the  few  occasions  when  we  have  been  able  to  get  both  eggs 
and  milk  the  result  of  my  cooking  has  been  praised  to  the  skies  !  I 
have  also  (owing  to  knowledge  of  French,  as  the  Colonel  told  me)  acted 


as  billeting-officer  since  the  fourth  day  after  our  arrival.  It  entails  going 
on  ahead  of  the  Brigade  and  seeing  to  the  lodging  or  bivouacking  of  the 
Battalion,  and  commandeering  all  eggs,  butter,  milk,  etc.,  possible.  It  is  no 
easy  matter,  and  when  one  arrives  about  1 1  p.m.  dead  tired  and  pitch  dark, 
with  rain,  it  requires  an  inordinate  control  of  the  temper  ! 

The  most  welcome  presents  are  cigarettes  and  chocolate,  none  of 
which  exist  any  longer  in  N.E.  of  France. 

Please  send  me  out  another  pair  of  regulation  puttees  (from  Cater, 
Pall  Mall),  mine  are  in  shreds  now.  We  all  look  very  sweet  sights  and 
have  not  seen  water,  except  to  drink,  for  7  days,  but  the  rain  has  done  a 
good  deal ;  no  clothes  off  for  the  last  10  days,  and  of  course  no  billeting, 
and  no  sleeping-bags,  etc. 

The  German  atrocities  cannot  be  exaggerated,  there  is  nothing  they 
will  not  descend  to. 

Give  my  very  best  love  to  all. 

Ever  your  loving 


Rain  began  on  10th  Sept.  and  practically  ceaseless  up  to  20th.  Trenches 
one  to  seven  or  eight  inches  deep  in  mud  and  water  ;  very  cold  at  night. 

Practically  ceaseless  bombardment  from  13th  onwards,  with  frequent  day 
and  night  attacks,  especially  latter.  Germans  wasted  hundreds  of  men  in  these 
attacks.  Prisoners  very  thin  and  haggard,  and  complained  of  hunger  and 

Brasserie  de  Cidre  et  de  Boisson, 

Victor  Bredel, 

45  Rue  de  la  Republique  45  {Havre). 

The  second  day  of  the  battle  of  the  Aisne  (Sept.  14th)  was  far  the  hotter  as 
regards  shell  fire,  as  trenches  were  in  many  places  not  yet  perfected  and  they  got 
several  of  their  big  howitzer  shells  amongst  us  as  well  as  shrapnel. 

(From  drawings  by  Sir  Edward  Hulse) 




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The  slope  in  which  were  situated  the  quarries,  was  about  30  feet  high,  and  partially  wooded,  with  small 
trees  and  bushes.  In  places  it  was  almost  sheer.  This  slope  is  marked  A  in  the  accompanying  section 
(see  next  page)  of  the  whole  hill  and  valley.  Our  trenches  were  hastily  dug  out,  and  men,  by  squatting, 
as  shown  on  this  sectional  sketch,  were  absolutely  safe  from  shrapnel,  however  close  it  burst.  At  times  it 
burst  so  close  that  one  could  feel  the  heat.     Many  bad  bursts  and  faulty  timing  of  fuses  were  noticed. 

While  in  these  trenches  they  did  not  attack  us  while  their  shrapnel  had  got  the  exact  range.  The 
men,  when  standing  up,  could  fire  with  ease  to  the  front,  though  the  field  of  fire  in  some  places  was  not 
more  than  60  yds.  ! 

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But  -provided  that  they  did  not  actually  strike  the  line  of  trenches  we  were 
all  right.  A  few  men  in  the  trenches  were  hit  by  stray  bits  from  shells  bursting 
between  points  A  and  B  {see  sketch  No.  2),  especially  by  bursts  on  slope 
B — D,  which  easily  reached  us  in  trenches  at  A,  tho'  most  of  it  was  either  mud 
or  stones  displaced  by  the  burst. 

In  one  place  the  hill  from  trenches  down  into  the  valley  was  so  steep,  that 
all  first  line  transport  was  practically  safe  from  the  big  shells,  and  the  damage 
done  to  a  few  horses  {Black  Watch  cookers)  was  entirely  due  to  their  being  too 
far  out  away  from  the  foot  of  the  hill. 

Brigade  headquarters  were  in  a  cave  {stone  quarry)  half  way  down  slope  C 
{see  sketch  No.  2). 

All  roads  and  paths  were  6  in.-g  in.  deep  in  mud,  and  in  places  over  1  ft. 

First  two  days  no  great  coats  and  few  oilsheets.  Incessant  rain  and  very 
muddy  trenches,  in  some  places  several  inches  of  mud  and  water  in  trenches 
themselves.  Men  did  most  sleeping  by  day,  and  night  attacks  were  frequent. 
Enemy  did  not  take  on  a  day  attack  with  infantry. 

21. 9. 14. 
My  Dearest  Mother, 

Have  received  all  your  letters  in  two  batches  and  all  parcels, 

for  which  ever  so  many  thanks.     The  great  thing  in  sending  welcome 

little  parcels  is   that   they  should    be  small  and    frequent  rather  than 

large    at    long    intervals,    as    we   have   all    we   can    carry   as   regards 

weight  on  our  backs.     Please  send  one  thick  vest  and  one  pair  short 

drawers  (thick,  and  only  down  to  above  the  knee)  at  once  ;   also  the 

same  a  fortnight  afterwards. 

And  now  for  any  little  news  I  can  give  you. 

After  six  days'  fighting  on  the  same  spot  night  and  day,  we  have 
been  relieved  and  are  billeted  in  a  village  just  in  rear  for  48  hours' 
rest.     We  have  had  brisk  time  in  foul  weather,  and  are  well  and  fit 

after  it.  No  wounded  officers  of  ours  are  bad,  and  the  Colonel  will 
rejoin  very  shortly  (slight  wound  in  hand,  chest  (scratch)  and  foot).  I 
am  conscious  of  having  left  out  the  date  of  our  baptism  of  fire  in  my 
last  letter,  it  was  the  28th  of  August,  and  since  then  we  have  pretty  well 
been  at  it  all  along.  However,  the  fight  of  the  last  six  days  has  cut 
out  anything  we  have  seen  before,  and  French,  who  motored  through 
here  to-day,  called  on  the  Brigadier,  and  told  him  specially  to  com- 
pliment our  Brigade  on  having  done  a  big  thing  under  trying 
circumstances,  and  in  the  most  advanced  position  of  the  allied  front. 

Posts  (except  actually  during  a  fight  when  transport  must  neces- 
sarily be  well  in  rear)  are  frequent  now  that  we  are  advancing,  and 
letters  are  appreciated  more  than  anything,  and  waited  for  with  feverish 
anxiety.     Write  as  many  as  you  like. 

I  am  very  sorry  indeed  about  George,  and  only  hope  that  he  will 
turn  up  all  right,  which  he  ought  to,  provided  the  wound  is  slight. 

People  think  the  German  atrocities  are  exaggerated,  I  believe.  I 
will  now  give  you  an   absolutely  authentic  instance  of  what   they  do. 

This  is  a  true  story  of 's  death.      He  was  wounded,  and  together 

with  some  of  our  men  and  the  Black  Watch,  and,  I  believe,  a  few 
Coldstream,  had  crawled  into  a  pit  to  avoid  further  fire.  The  Germans 
came   up  and   fired  on   this   party  of  our   men   (35-40  in  all)  and   all 

wounded.     and  a  Black  Watch  officer  put  up  a  handkerchief  as 

a  signal  to  them,  upon  which  the  Germans  walked  in  and  shot  the 
lot  point  blank.  Two  men  escaped, — and  one  of  them  was  ours, — 
by  feinting  to  be  dead  and  crawling  back  by  night  to  the  lines  ;  they 
had  two  wounds  each.  The  rest,  as  I  say,  were  butchered,  although 
already  incapacitated  completely.  Again,  a  Medical  Officer,  wounded, 
lay  on  the  ground,  and  when  Germans  came  up,  he  handed  them  his 
revolver,  upon  which  they  took  it  and  shot  him  through  both  hands, 
and  left  him.  He  is  now  in  England.  Hundreds  of  other  things  1 
could  tell  you  of  the  same  incredible  nature,  so  don't  let  anyone  think 
that  the  stories  one  hears  are  mere  exaggerations. 

By-the-by,  two  Jaeger  cholera-belts  would  be  most  acceptable. 

Quite  right  of  you  to  stop  Gun  at  Home  and  Abroad,  all  luxurious 
expenses  must  cease  at  once. 

Your  story  of  Nicklen  most  amusing.     Will  you  please  send  two 
sheets  and  two  envelopes  of  foreign  paper  in  every  letter  you  send  me, 
as  no  envelopes  available. 
Very  best  love. 

Ever  your  loving 


P.S. — I  am  only  writing  to  you  at  present,  as  no  time  for  other 
letters.  Much  better  to  give  you  frequent  news,  and  you  can  pass 
it  on.  E.  H. 

Back  to  CEuilly,  nominally  for  three  days'  rest,  but  only  had  thirty  hours, 
broken  by  alarms,  when  we  went  out  to  Verneuil  to  relieve  6th  Brigade,  2nd 
Division.     I  was  carted  out  of  our  funk-holes  there  on  the  night  of  the  22nd. 

(Nantes)  27.9.14. 
My  Dearest  Mother,1 

Here    I   am    at   an   overflow    Base   Hospital,   living   in    great 
comfort,  though  not  in  too  great  luxury. 

We  are  at  Nantes,  but  may  be  moved  at  any  time,  and  the  fellows 
here  with  wounds  in  the  arms  or  legs  (that  have  healed)  may  be 
sent  home  for  a  bit,  or  may  remain  here.  No  one  seems  certain,  and 
I  believe  it  is  all  a  question  of  clearing  the  Hospitals  at  the  Base,  on 
the  sea ;  one  has  to  be  gradually  shifted  down,  as  there  is  room. 
All  hospitals  from  Base  to  Firing-line  are  chock-a-block,  and  we  have 
700  cases  here  in  French  hospitals. 

1  Found  at  home  on  my  return  from  France. — E.   M.  H. 


I  had  bad  dysentery  for  two  days  in  the  trenches  (in  which  we 
were  for  nine  days,  with  one  day's  respite)  in  pouring  rain  and  cold  ; 
added  to  that  my  old  right  leg,  in  which  you  will  remember  I  had 
rheumatism  years  ago,  went  quite  stiff,  a  week  ago  (Monday  night). 
I  could  not  move  at  all,  and  was  just  a  helpless  lump,  so  was  carried 
down  from  the  trenches  under  cover  of  darkness  to  a  village  in 
rear.  I  don't  remember  much  about  it,  but  have  hazy  recollections 
of  a  medical  officer,  a  horse  ambulance,  German  wounded  beside  me, 
then  a  motor  ambulance  and  a  bed  in  a  clearing  Hospital,  a  short 
sojourn  there,  and  we  were  put  into  a  train  (well  fitted  up  as  a 
hospital),  and  at  an  incredibly  slow  pace,  and  taking  three  days  and 
a  bit,  we  arrived  here.  On  the  train  I  made  the  most  astoundingly 
quick  progress  (far  quicker  than  any  other  similar  cases),  and  though 
weak  as  a  kitten,  and  with  no  legs  at  all,  the  pains,  and  head,  etc., 
went  off  almost  entirely.  The  warmth  of  blankets,  etc.,  fetched  out 
the  rheumatism,  but  that  is  no  longer  painful  now.  I  can  get  about  the 
room  now,  and  am  to  be  allowed  out  of  bed  to-morrow.  I  have  been  put 
on  ordinary  light  diet  (no  longer  milk)  and  have  an  appetite  like  an  ox. 

Several  of  the  ist  Brigade  down  here,  and  luckily  one  Edwardes, 
Captain  in  the  Coldstream,  in  the  next  bed.  He  is  almost  all  right 
(shot  through  the  arm),  and  goes  out  and  forages  for  me  very  kindly 
for  papers,  etc.  The  M.O.  gave  me  some  cigarettes  to-day,  so  you 
can  see  that  I  am  well  on  my  way  back  to  the  d — d  barbarian  host. 

It  is  absolutely  inconceivable  what  they  do,  and  not  worth  men- 
tioning what  they  don't  do  !  I  see  the  Commission  on  Atrocities  is 
doing  grand  work.  It  is  a  great  pity  and  absolutely  wrong,  if  people 
get  it  into  their  heads  that  the  reports  are  exaggerated  in  any  way. 

Interesting  points  about  our  fighting  I  am  afraid  I  cannot  mention. 
Everything  was  cold,  sodden  and  running  inches  deep  in  water  and 
mud.  Constant  attacks  and  counter  attacks  and  very  heavy  shell  fire. 
The  German  big  high  explosive  has  done  us  little  damage,  though 
moral  effect  is  very  great.  Our  men  have  been  wonderful,  and  little 
sickness  has  occurred  so  far,  considering  the  very  rigorous  conditions 


when  large  forces  have  been  stationary  for  ten  days  and  more  in  soaking 
trenches.  The  Germans  have  got  enteric  in  their  trenches,  and,  according 
to  two  wounded  officers  (absolute  swine  and  ill-conditioned  brutes)  who 
came  down  with  me,  are  suffering  severely  from  it.  All  German 
privates,  captured  or  wounded,  ask  at  once  whether  they  are  going  to 
England,  and  if  answered  in  the  affirmative,  are  relieved  beyond  all 
words.  Wherever  taken  they  seemed  to  be  hungry  and  very  thin, 
showing  signs  of  wear  badly.  They  favour  the  night  attack  (at  least 
have  with  us)  and  they  drive  their  men  forward  in  very  large  numbers. 
But  our  rifle-fire  is  out  and  away  too  much  for  them,  and  they  have 
not  got  in  our  part  of  the  line  at  all.  They  fairly  hate  the  cold  steel. 
I  have  done  none  of  that  yet.  In  one  place  two  German  officers  were 
found  dead  thirty  or  forty  yards  in  front  of  their  trenches,  and  all  the 
men  themselves  dead  in  the  trenches,  showing  that  they  will  not  follow 
their  officers.  They  fairly  hate  the  sight  of  them,  and  have  to  be 
driven,  not  commanded  and  led. 

Please  stop  sending  anything  to  me  at  the  former  address,  until  I 
tell  you.     At  present  my  address  is, 

Officers'  Hospital,  No.  2  Base, 
Expeditionary  Force. 
At  present  please  send  only  letters. 

I   suppose   all    that   rumour   about    the   Russians   in    England   was 
wrong  ?     I  expect  a  lot  of  stories  like  that  have  been  going  about. 

Let  me  know  all  the  news  from  home  as  soon  as  possible. 

My  very  best  love. 

Ever  your  loving 



On  September  28th,  1914,  /  received  a  telegram  from  the  War  Office  telling 
me  that  my  son  was  in  Hospital  at  Nantes.  On  enquiry,  I  was  told  he  was 
suffering  from  dysentery  and  rheumatism.  So,  being  most  anxious  he  should 
make  a  good  recovery,  as  I  knew  how  miserable  he  would  be  if  invalided  home, 
I  settled  to  go  to  Nantes. 

I  had  got  my  passport  ready  in  case  of  necessity.  I  left  Southampton 
at  4  p.m.  on  September  30th  and  arrived  at  Nantes  at  1.30  a.m.  on  October 

I  found  that  the  English  Officers'  Hospital  was  in  the  Rue  de  la  Bastille, 
and  I  arrived  there  about  9.30  a.m.  The  kind  and  courteous  C.M.O.  took 
me  at  once  to  the  ward  where  my  son  was,  with  three  other  officers.  He  was 
sitting  up  for  the  first  time,  and  on  seeing  me,  exclaimed  :  "  By  Gad,  I  didn't 
know  you  could  get  here  !  "  I  replied,  "  you  can't,"  recalling  the  struggle  of  my 
seventeen  hours'  journey  from  St.  Malo  to  Nantes,  instead  of  what  should  have 
been  about  five  or  six  hours.  My  son  looked  extremely  thin  and  pulled  down, 
and  was  very  weak,  but  told  me  he  felt  "  on  the  mend,"  and  had  improved  even 
on  the  train  journey  from  the  rail-head,  Braisne,  to  Nantes.  He  had  been  lifted 
out  of  the  Aisne  trenches,  partly  unconscious  and  in  high  fever,  the  night  of 
September  22nd,  as  I  learned  subsequently  from  his  soldier  servant,  and  helped 
back  to  a  village  behind  our  line  of  trenches.  He  remembered  a  little  of  one 
night  in  a  cellar,  and  one  in  a  Church, — then  to  the  rail-head  by  motor,  and 
a  two  days'  journey  in  a  train  full  of  wounded  and  sick  ;  but  during  those 
two  days  the  dysentery  abated,  his  temperature  came  down,  and  the  warm  blankets 
did  wonders  for  his  rheumatism. 


The  C.M.O.  of  the  Hospital,  grasping  the  fact  that  I  had  come,  not  to  try 
and  get  my  son  home,  but  to  try  and  get  him  thoroughly  fit  for  duty  again,  allowed 
him  to  join  me  at  the  Hotel  the  afternoon  of  October  2nd,  and  in  two  or  three 
days  he  improved  wonderfully ,  eating  plenty  of  healthy  and  nourishing  food. 
We  took  motor  drives,  and  saw  all  the  wonders  of  the  great  thriving  French 
town  transformed  into  the  English  Army  Base,  with  W.  and  G.  Taxis,  and 
Hampton's,  and  Waring's  vans  whirling  about  the  streets.  After  the  first 
two  days  he  constantly  called  at  Head-quarters  to  know  when  he  would  be  able 
to  get  back  to  duty,  and  after  being  passed  medically  fit  for  light  duty,  he  started 
for  St.  Nazaire  early  on  October  yth — looking  forward  with  the  keenest  pleasure 
and  interest  to  rejoining  his  battalion  before  very  long.  As  we  parted  he  said, 
"  If  you  roll  up  in  the  firing  line  I  shan't  turn  a  hair,"  and  I  returned  to 
England  via  St.  Malo  and  Southampton. 


i  1. 10. 14. 

My  Dearest  Mother, 

Complete  chaos  and  shifting  about  have  prevented  my  getting 
a  letter  through  to  you.  I  took  a  quiet  five  and  a  half  hours  getting  to 
St.  Nazaire  that  day,  and  after  reporting  at  the  Base  Commandant's  was 
told  to  join  a  select  little  party  of  nondescript  officers  and  a  party  of  the 
roughest  and  most  ill-clad  men  of  all  regiments  of  the  army,  numbering 
320,  who  were  classed  as  "  B,"  meaning  convalescent,  and  fit  for  light 
base  duty.  Our  Head-quarters  were  the  Casino,  where  I  spent  a  hard 
and  very  cold  night  with  one  blanket  only  on  a  stone  floor.  Next  day 
we  were  put  into  a  train  for  Havre,  and  here  we  are  after  two  days 
in  the  train,  very  few  rations,  but  we  (4  officers)  looked  after  ourselves 
all  right. 

On  arriving  we  found  that  we  had  to  go  to  a  camp  two  miles  out, 
above  the  town.  We  are  doing  nothing  at  present  except  trying  to 
get  fresh  kit,  etc.,  from  England,  and  the  difficulties  in  the  way  of  any 
officer  trying  to  get  back  to  the  front  are  incalculable.  However,  I  have 
written  to  our  CO.  to  apply  for  me.  At  present  officers  returning  from 
here  to  the  front  have  to  go  via  St.  Nazaire  ;  it  seems  inconceivable. 

They  tried  to  put  us  all  in  camp  at  first.  Of  course  we  had  no 
blankets,  nothing  to  sleep  in  or  on,  so  I  boldly  tackled  Head-quarters 
and  explained  that  half  our  men  were  rheumatic,  etc.,  had  no  kit,  and 
that  three  out  of  the  four  officers  were  under  doctor's  orders  not  to  sleep 
out  yet.  I  managed  to  get  leave  for  billeting,  and  have  ensconced 
myself  and  the  other  officers  at  a  grocer's  close  to  the  camp,  and  have 


worked  an  Officers'  Mess  at  a  little  "  Buvette  "  close  by.  They  do  us 
well  and  very  cheap.  If  we  had  not  been  very  firm  we  should  have  been 
put  down  in  the  camp  on  very  short  rations,  and  without  a  blanket 
or  anything. 

Why  they  sent  us  here  goodness  only  knows,  as  they  have  only  just 
begun  to  reconstruct  a  base  here,  and  all  the  brains  and  working- 
machinery  remain  at  Nantes.  Result,  complete  chaos  here,  especially  as 
most  available  buildings  are  full  of  French  wounded,  and  the  schools  are 
reopening,  which  does  away  with  the  most  valuable  type  of  building  for 
military  purposes.  They  have,  so  far,  given  us  no  work  of  any  sort, 
and  as  soon  as  I  can  refit  properly,  I  shall  probably  step  lightly  into  a 
train  for  Rouen  and  Amiens,  and  work  my  own  way  to  the  Regiment. 

I  saw  our  3rd,  4th  and  5th  reinforcements  at  St.  Nazaire,  with 
Archie  Douglas-Dick,  Romer,  and  Jack  Wickham,  and  had  a  good  talk 
with  them.  They  are  bored  to  tears  stuck  down  there,  and  no  talk  of 
being  wanted  at  the  front  yet. 

Am  rather  hurried  now,  but  will  write  again  shortly. 

Please  put  the  ordinary  address  (Scots  Guards,  Expeditionary  Force). 
You  can  put  on  your  next  letter  :  No.  1  Base,  Details,  Le  Havre. 
Write  by  return  as  I  must  be  here  for  another  week,  and  the  posts, 
I  believe,  only  take  two  and  a  half  to  three  days. 

Very  best  love  to  all,  and  my  sketches  must  wait  a  bit. 

Ever  your  loving 




Scots  Guards, 

No.    i   Base,  Details, 

Le  Havre. 

Please  put  this  address  until  further  notice. 

My  Dearest  Mother, 

No  news  here,  and  we  can  get  nothing  definite  about  move- 
ments at  the  front.  A  change  is  going  on,  but  the  3rd  echelon  still 
being  at  Nantes,  we  cannot  find  out  where  even  our  own  army  corps  is. 
The  Belgian  Government  arrived  here  amidst  great  acclamations  and  was 
heavily  fed  at  the  Hotel  de  Ville. 

I  have  had  nothing  from  Cater  yet  ;  please  telephone  and  ask 
him  if  he  has  sent  cap  and  waterproof  sheet  yet.  Also  please  ask 
Thompson  (St.  James'  Street)  to  make  me  a  pair  of  thick  khaki 
knickerbockers,  the  old  fashioned  shooting  kind,  to  fold  over  well  at 
the  knee,  to  fasten  with  a  plain  buckle,  ona|  inch  strap  ;  same  stuff  as 
my  last  pair  of  service  breeches  (thick),  to  be  sent  to  above  address  and 
dispatched  if  possible  on  the  23rd. 

The  M.O.  will  not  let  me  go  up  before  the  end  of  the  month.  Do 
send  some  D.Ts.     We  get  your  posts  now  in  three  days. 

Very  best  love  to  you  and  Olive  and  all  at  B.H. 

Ever  your  loving 


No.   1   Base,  Details, 

18. 10.14. 
My  Dearest  Mother, 

I  have  now  become  a  sort  of  Quartermaster.     A  party  of  fifty 
motor-cyclists,  Reserve  Signal  Coy.,  arrived  yesterday  in  a  hurry  from 


Aldershot,  with  absolutely  nothing  except  motor  bikes  and  revolvers. 
No  equipment  for  the  front,  no  blankets,  waterproof  sheets,  or  rations — 
and  very  hungry.  Being  a  Detachment  and  coming  under  our  camp  of 
various  details,  I  was  put  in  charge  of  them,  and  endless  indenting  and 
requisitioning  began.  I  am  running  them  on  my  own,  and  they  are  a 
curious  lot,  chiefly  University  men,  etc.,  who  have  enlisted  :  two  fellows 
who  were  up  at  Oxford  with  me,  one  a  brother  of  Geoffrey  Loyd. 
They  are  all  Corporals,  except  three,  who  are  Sergeants.  Several  seemed 
very  pleased  to  see  me  this  morning,  in  fact  more  so  than  was  quite 
compatible  with  discipline.  However,  they  have  already  shaken  down, 
and  salute  instead  of  wishing  me  a  very  good  morning  now  ! 

After  endless  work  and  worrying  Head-quarters  and  the  Ordnance 
yesterday,  I  managed  to  get  them  a  hundred  blankets,  four  dixies  and 
rations,  and  pay,  which  they  had  not  had  for  a  fortnight,  and  am  going 
to  work  them  in,  in  future,  for  rations  with  our  own  camp,  as  motor  or 
horse-transport  from  the  quays  up  to  this  camp  is  scarce. 

Last  night  the  jumpy  captain,  who  has  been  in  command  of  our 
rough  lot,  got  another  go  of  his  fever,  so  that  I  and  a  young  subaltern 
in  the  Seaforths,  Villiers  Price  by  name,  are  running  the  whole  show 
now.  To-day  we  have  680  men  under  us,  belonging  to  84  different 
regiments,  and  enough  work  to  keep  us  going  for  a  month.  It  is  no 
easy  matter,  as  non-commissioned  officers  are  scarce,  and  our  Sergeant- 
Major  is  a  gunner,  and  therefore  not  nearly  as  good  at  the  job  as  an 
infantry  S.M. 

Last  night  at  6  p.m.  a  party  of  no  arrived  without  any  warning 
from  anyone.  We  settled  them  down  and  got  220  blankets  for  them. 
We  had  just  finished,  got  their  rations  arranged  and  everything,  and  had 
sat  down  to  dinner  at  7.30  p.m.,  when  a  French  interpreter  came  in  and 
announced  the  extremely  unwelcome  news  that  he  had  just  brought  up 
a  party  of  1 8 1  men  of  all  sorts  of  regiments,  without  an  officer,  who  had 
arrived  convalescent  from  the  hospital  at  Rouen  ! 

Not  a  word  had  we  from  Head-quarters  as  to  their  arrival,  and 
it  transpired   that  Head-quarters  had   only  heard   half-an-hour  before. 


There  is  obviously  something  wrong  somewhere,  as  181  men  cannot 
get  into  any  train  without  someone  knowing,  and  that  someone  ought  to 
acquaint  Head-quarters  at  the  place  of  destination  long  before  their 

Well,  by  great  luck,  we  had  pitched  thirty  extra  tents  yesterday,  in 
case  of  fresh  arrivals,  and  they  just  took  the  290  men  of  the  two  parties 
comfortably.  It  was  11  p.m.  before  we  could  get  the  blankets,  362 
more,  up,  and  any  rations,  for  these  unfortunate  devils  who  were  only 
just  dismissed  from  hospital,  and  felt  the  cold.  We  are  on  a  big  hill 
two  miles  above  the  docks,  and  one  doesn't  get  supplies  up  in  ten 
minutes,  as  you  may  imagine.  The  only  way  we  got  anything  was 
by  talking  to  Head-quarters  like  fathers,  extremely  short  and  to  the 
point ! 

The  main  base  being  still  at  Nantes,  the  brains,  machinery  and 
supplies  not  having  yet  arrived  here,  we  have  the  greatest  difficulty  in 
getting  anything  at  all  out  of  the  Ordnance.  In  fact  they  say  that  all 
troops  coming  from  England  are  fully  equipped.  The  detachments  in 
turn  who  arrive  without  anything,  have  been  told,  "when  sent  from 
Aldershot,  "  Oh,  you'll  find  everything  to  fit  out  with  at  the  base."  As 
I  said  before,  this  is  really  not  the  base  yet,  although  they  feed  the 
whole  army  from  here  now,  and  all  mails  pass  through  here.  Until 
the  Ordnance  moves  from  Nantes  to  this  place,  it  is  likely  to  remain 
complete  chaos.  I  cannot  even  get  a  man's  web-equipment  and  pack  to 
fit  myself  out  with  for  rejoining.  However,  it  is  all  very  good  practice 
for  me,  and  it's  far  more  interesting  when  one  is  running  a  show  oneself, 
even  if  the  show  consists  of  the  motley  crowd  of  which  mine  does ! 

I  have  got  myself  so  well  known  at  Head-quarters  now,  that  merely 
on  my  appearance  the  Staff  Captains  and  Majors  suddenly  find  them- 
selves awfully  busy,  writing  away  like  fun,  as  they  know  I  have  come 
down  with  some  new  problem,  which  ought  to  have  been  settled  by 
them,  or  at  any  rate  warning  given  to  me  by  them,  when  actually  nothing 
has  been  done.  Some  of  them  find  that  Havre  is  much  further  from 
Tipperary  than  they  at  first  thought ! 


The  place  is  already  crowded  out  with  French  wounded,  and  Belgian 
refugees,  and  although  the  schools  have  reopened,  I  expect  they  will 
have  to  shut  when  our  base  moves  here,  as  we  require  a  great  deal  of 

I  enclose  a  Railway  warrant,  which  I  failed  to  hand  in  at  St.  Nazaire 
on  arrival,  as  I  thought  it  might  be  a  good  souvenir !     Please  keep  it  ! 

The  French  have  been  very  keen  to  get  us  on  to  the  extreme  left 
wing,  as  our  lines  of  communication  from  St.  Nazaire  and  Nantes  by 
Le  Mans  and  so  to  firing-line  crossed  some  of  theirs.  This  new  move 
has  given  us  the  opportunity  of  changing,  and  I  imagine  that  we  shall 
now  stay  on  the  left,  with  our  bases  at  Havre,  Boulogne,  etc.,  according 
to  circumstances.  I  believe  the  Cavalry  are  now  being  fed  from 
Boulogne,  and  the  whole  of  our  army  from  here.  Incidentally,  we  again 
came  in  for  the  brunt  of  the  fighting. 

Wasn't  that  a  bad  move,  sending  Marines  to  Antwerp  ?  Of  course, 
we  do  not  know  all  facts,  but  it  seems  so. 

Have  had  no  cigarettes  since  I  saw  you  last.  Please  give  this 
address,  No.  i,  Base  Details,  Havre,  to  F.  L.  Smith,  Albany  Cigarettes. 

I  will  let  you  know  change  of  address  directly  it  occurs,  and  will  you 
please  let  Cater,  Smith,  and  Thompson,  the  tailor,  know. 

A  message  has  just  come  that  40  more  men  are  coming  up  ;  D — n. 
Our  command  is  now  720  men.  I  shall  shortly  call  myself  Colonel,  if 
they  don't  watch  it. 

Very  best  love  to  all. 

Ever  your  loving 



My  Dearest  Mother, 

Only  a  short   letter,  from   the   orderly-room,  or   rather   tent, 
which  I  have  got  going  properly  now,  with  a  good  sergeant,  as  clerk  to 


myself.  I  was  to  have  moved  to-day  to  St.  Nazaire,  but  I  believe  our 
reinforcements  are  moving  here  now,  so  I  have  apparently  to  wait  for 
their  arrival.  Troops  are  coming  in  at  all  hours  of  day  and  night,  and  I 
am  kept  well  at  it  until  about  7.30  or  8  p.m.  each  evening.  I  am 
sleeping  under  canvas  now,  since  I  was  passed  fit.  Amusing  and  very 
green  details  of  different  regiments  and  signalling  services  continue  to  pass 
through  my  hands.  I  have  had  a  lot  of  military  police  lately,  but  have 
sent  most  of  them  off  on  lines  of  communication,  and  some  up  to  Head- 
quarters. All  the  details  arrive  without  a  thing  from  Aldershot,  and  have 
to  be  completely  equipped  ;  they  generally  only  stay  a  night  or  two,  when 
I  get  a  telegram  or  'phone  from  the  Base  Commandant's,  and  pack  them 
off  at  short  notice  to  all  sorts  of  imaginable  places. 

The  only  real  difficulty  is  that  one  gets  no  notice  at  all  of  their  arrival, 
until  one  finds  them  looking  for  tents.  Many  of  them  hardly  know  how 
to  take  care  of  themselves,  and  in  drawing  rations  at  the  camp  cook-house 
get  well  done  down  by  some  of  our  B.  details,  convalescent,  all  of  whom 
are  old  stagers,  and  only  too  apt  to  take  other  men's  shares  as  well  as 
their  own. 

I  heard  from  Uncle  Baa  yesterday,  who  seems  to  be  very  busy  with 
refugees  in  B — mouth.  I  have  had  three  lots  of  D.T.s  from  the  Office,  all 
in  one  go,  but  they  included  no  less  than  three  copies  of  the  D.T.  of 
Wednesday  21st. 

I  cannot  get  anything  from  Cater  ;  please  ask  him  to  send  things  at 
once,  if  he  has  not,  also  Thompson  (breeches).  Address  No  1  Base, 
Details,  Havre,  as  even  if  I  moved,  they  will  be  forwarded,  and  have 
instructions  of  any  alteration  of  my  address  at  the  P.O.  here.  I  will  let  you 
know  at  once  on  moving,  probably  by  wire.  Two  slabs  of  chocolate 
would  be  very  gratifying  from  time  to  time,  after  I  go  up  to  the  front. 
Also,  after  I  start,  wherever  you  write,  please  enclose  two  sheets  of  foreign 
paper  and  an  envelope,  for  me  to  answer  with. 

Yesterday,  I  saw  an  old  grey  haired  and  grey  moustached  man  in 
Head-quarters  whom  I  recognized.  I  talked  to  him,  and  found  that  he 
had  just  come  out  of  the  Remount  Depot,  with  the  rank  of  Captain.      I 


can't  get  the  name,  but  he  hunts  with  the  Wilton,  and  gave  me  the  latest 
news  of  what  sounded  like  very  comic  and  inefficient  cubbing  ! 

I  will  keep  an  eye  open  for  Guy  Crichton,  as  I  go  to  Head-quarters 
every  day  and  look  up  the  arrival  book,  in  which  all  names  have  to  be 
entered,  so  I  shall  probably  find  him. 

The  Camp  Commandant  has  just  this  minute  put  his  head  in  and  given 
me  a  new  command.  It  consists  of  about  500  men  (A.  class,  namely 
passed  from  B.  convalescent,  into  fit  for  the  front  again).  I  have  now 
got  to  get  the  camp  pitched  and  start  a  new  staff  going.  I  shall  strike 
shortly  for  increased  wages  ! 

Very  best  love  to  all,  and  will  let  you  know  the  minute  I  move  off. 

Ever  your  loving 



2.1 1. 14. 
My  Dearest  Mother, 

Just  off  to  No.  3  Camp,  where  the  reinforcements  are  ;  ours 
have  not  yet  come  from  St.  Nazaire,  but  ought  to  be  here  very  shortly. 
Please  continue  same  address  until  further  notice.  Please  ask  Cater  to 
send  cap  and  oil-sheet  immediately.  I  do  not  know  what  he  has  done 
with  them.     I  am  sending  three  amusing  papers. 

In  the  Lectures  pour  Tous  there  is  a  good  sketch  of  German  trenches, 
except  that  on  the  Aisne  they  are  more  elaborate  still. 
Very  best  love. 

Ever  your  loving 





My  Dearest  Mother, 

I  have  written  to  Uncle  Mi  in  spite  of  your  letter  saying  best 
not,  as  he  must  feel  Bill's  death  frightfully,  and  was  always  so  proud  of 
the  way  in  which  he  was  following  his  own  footsteps  in  the  regiment.  It 
seems  a  certainty,  although  I  have  seen  no  casualty  list  in  which  he  is 
mentioned.  There  was  no  young  subaltern,  I  think,  more  popular  in  the 
regiment  (both  battalions  included).  It  is  awful  for  Marge  and  Olivia, 
especially  the  latter. 

My  reinforcement  does  not  arrive  from  St.  Nazaire  for  several  days 
yet,  so  please  keep  on  with  the  same  address.  Territorials  of  all  sorts  are 
pouring  in  here,  and  I  saw  the  Leicestershire  Yeomanry  (talked  to  Bertie 
Hanbury  and  Major  Ricardo)  to-day. 

It  is  hopeless  messing  about  down  here,  and  I  wish  to  goodness  I 
could  get  up  and  have  a  slap  at  them.  Things  seem  to  be  going  well, 
but  I  should  think  that  they  will  have  another  big  go  at  us  before  retiring. 
Am  very  busy  with  every  conceivable  regiment  in  the  British  Army  still  ! 

Will  write  shortly.  I  am  too  sorry  for  words  about  Bill,  he  was  what 
Uncle  Mi  himself  would  call  "  a  real  good  boy." 

Very  best  love. 

Ever  your  loving 



My  Dearest  Mother, 

Just  received  your  last  three  letters.     I  am  too  sorry  for  words 

about  Teddy  B.,  the  loss  will  be  dreadful  for  poor  Aunt  May.     I  had 

not  heard,  but  will  write  to-day. 

It  is  a  terrible  thing  about  our  2nd  Battalion,  but  apparently  the  rest 

of  that  Brigade  had  just   as  hot.      On  top   of  that  comes  the   news 


that  our  ist  Battalion  has  suffered  very  heavily,  especially  my  company. 
Peckham,  Jack  Balfour,  Ogilvy  and  Hamilton  killed,  and  worse  than  all, 
Stephen  the  Adjutant,  who,  in  the  Colonel's  absence,  absolutely  ran 
the  Battalion.     His  will  be  the  worst  loss  of  all  to  us. 

I  am  here  with  Romer  (late  Adjutant)  and  300  men,  expecting 
to  move  at  any  moment.  Fourteen  officers  have  arrived,  or  arrive 
to-day,  seven  for  each  Battalion,  including  Tom  Coke,  Dumps,  Nipper 
Poynter,  Lisburne,  Dick  Coke  and  others. 

There  must  be  a  ghastly  casualty  list  coming  out,  as  we  have  got 
none  of  the  ist  Bn.  losses  here  yet.  A  Captain  from  Army  Head- 
quarters told  me  yesterday  that  French  and  Joffre  are  eminently  satisfied, 
and  extremely  optimistic  with  regard  to  the  situation  in  general.  They 
incline  to  an  early  termination  of  the  war  ;  I  can't  see  it  myself. 

Territorials  and  reinforcements  pouring  in  here  in  a  ceaseless  stream 
night  and  day. 

In  very  great  haste,  writing  shortly.  Please  send  nothing  in  the  way 
of  "  comforts  "  (socks,  etc.)  until  I  ask  for  them,  but  start  on  chocolate 
directly  you  get  wire  that  I  have  started.     Cigarettes  continue  as  usual. 

Very  best  love  to  all,  and  deepest  sympathy  with  Aunt  May. 

Ever  your  loving 


2nd  Battalion  Scots  Guards, 

7th  Division, 

On  Active  Service, 

12. 1 1. 14. 

My  Dearest  Mother, 

Romer  and  I  were  joined  at  Havre  by  Dick  Coke,  Barry  and 
Massey,  and  we  had  300  men  as  reinforcements  for  the  1st  Battalion. 
Seven  officers  and  250  men  left  the  day  before  us  for  the  2nd  Battalion. 
We  then  got  an  order   to  leave  with  the  7th  Division  reinforcements 


in  a  hurry,  and  here  we  are  with  the  2nd  Battalion  for  good,  as  far 
as  I  can  make  out. 

Romer  and  I  were  annoyed  beyond  words,  as  we  had  been  looking 
forward  to  seeing  the  Colonel  (Lowther)  again,  and  finding  ourselves 
under  one  of  the   ablest  and    best   C.O.s  in  the  army.     Instead,  we 

have  arrived  here  at behind  the  firing-line,  about  six  miles,  where 

the  2nd  Battalion  are  reconstructing,  and  we  are  hard  at  it  mixing  up  the 
"  remains "  with  the  two  new  reinforcements  in  due  proportion,  and 
finding  N.C.O.s,  etc.  We  are  pretty  short  of  the  latter,  and  they  are 
different  from  the  fine  lot  I  had  under  me  before  !  However,  physically 
they  are  just  as  fine  a  lot,  and  I  have  just  got  my  platoon  together, 
and  told  them  how  I  intend  to  run  things,  and  they  seem  a  really 
good  bunch,  and  mad  keen.  Of  course  there  is  none  of  the  fatigue, 
or  "  Tired  Willie "  about  them  yet,  and  discipline  is  being  worked 

George  Paynter  in  command  and  has  been  doing  very  well  indeed, 
I  believe.  Alby  Cator,  who  was  Brigade  Major,  is  now  Brigadier — vice 
Ruggles,  who  was  wounded.  General  Putty  came  to  see  us  last  night  in 
this  cafe,  where  we  are  working  a  mess  (the  Battalion  all  in  billets). 
He  was  in  tremendous  form  ;  brought  along  Castlereagh  and  Pembroke 
with  him. 

By  sending  us  to  complete  this  Battalion  (we  have  orders  to  move 
at  any  moment),  I  imagine  that  they  mean  to  take  the  remains  of  the 
ist  Division,  or  anyhow  ist  Brigade,  out  of  the  firing-line,  to  recoup  in 
the  rear,  as  there  are  now  no  reinforcements  to  come  up  for  the  ist 
Battalion.  They  have  had  it  very  hot  indeed,  and  the  whole  of  my  old 
company  has  disappeared.  Peck,  Jack  B.,  Ogilvy  killed  and  Campbell 
missing.  Stirling  Stewart  was  wounded  on  the  Aisne  and  myself  here, 
so  that  there  are  none  of  the  original  lot  left. 

All  officers  and  men  in  great  form  and  spirits  here, — it  is  the  best 
way  to  carry  on. 

Pouring  rain  and  pretty  cold,  so  thank  goodness  we  have  some 
respite  in  billets.     Everyone  eminently  satisfied  with  the  way  things  are 


going,  and  troops  being  lumped  in  everywhere.  The  Alpine  regiments 
came  up  with  us,  and  were  pushed  in  from  here  by  London  Motor  Bus 
yesterday  ! 

Our  ist  Battalion  are  near,  as  the  7th  and  1st  Divisions  have  been 
working  together,  pending  the  arrival  of  the  8th  Division  : — the  7th  and 
8th  will  then  make  up  one  Army  Corps  (the  4th)  under  General 
Rawlinson.     I  believe  Ruthven  is  coming  to  command  this  Battalion. 

I  am  as  fat  as  a  pig,  having  laid  in  a  good  store  during  my  sojourn 
at  Havre  in  view  of  light  feeding  in  the  near  future !  At  present  we 
are  doing  ourselves  proud,  on  eggs  at  3d.  apiece. 

My  company  consists  of  "Bubbles"  (Bagot  Chester)  Captain,  Pip 
Warner,  myself  and  Ottley,  and  a  sergeant,  as  platoon  commanders. 

I  am  full  of  underclothing,  etc.,  at  present,  but  please  let  F.  L.  Smith 
know  of  change  of  address  at  once,  2nd  Battalion,  7th  Division.  Give 
my  very  best  love  to  Olive  and  all  at  H.B. 

Ever  your  loving 


P.S. — Colonel,  Jack  and  others  apparently  were,  as  you  say,  buried 
and  stunned  by  Jack  Johnsons,  and  dug  out  by  Germans. 

2/Bn.  Scots  Guards, 

7th  Division, 

19. 1 1. 14. 
My  Dearest  Mother, 

Just  a  very  hasty  note  to  let  you  know  that  I  am  going  strong, 

in  exceptionally  cold  and  unpleasant  circumstances.     We  have  been  in 

the  trenches  five  days,  with  frost  at  night,  and  snow  and  sleet  by  day, 

and  have  changed  nothing,  not  even  boots  or  socks.     We  take  turns 

in  going  back  to  head-quarters  of  the  Battalion  by  night, — a  very  wet 

and  muddy  walk  of  about  f  mile.     I  could  not  get  a  letter  off  before,  and 


am  sending  this  in  haste  as  a  post  is  going  out  which  I  have  only  just 
heard  of.     A  long  letter  is  following  immediately. 
Very  best  love  to  you  and  O. 

Ever  your  loving 


2nd  Battalion  Scots  Gds., 
7th  Division, 
20.11. 14. 
My  Dearest  Mother, 

Apologies  for  last  hasty  note  which  I  wrote,  but  it  was  the 
first  opportunity  I  had  to  write. 

We   moved   into   these  trenches    from   where   the  Battalion 

re-formed  and  fitted  after  the  hot  time  they  had  near  Ypres.  We 
are  further  south  now  and  relieved  a  battalion  which  had  been  in  these 
trenches  for  three  and  a  half  weeks.  I  hope  to  goodness  our  sojourn 
will  be  shorter.  It  is  damp,  very  cold  and  unpleasant  sitting  still  and 
not  being  able  to  put  one's  head  above  the  parapet  without  a  little 
conversation  from  the  "  Bosches  "  in  front  of  us.  It  is  low-lying,  wet 
arable  land,  and  we  are  only  150  yards  from  the  enemy's  trenches. 
Just  on  my  left  Pip  Warner's  platoon  is  only  80  or  90  yards  from 
the  Germans,  as  the  latter  have  sapped  towards  us,  and  have  well- 
placed  snipers,  who  have  killed  three  of  our  men  and  wounded  three 
others.  However,  we  have  been  doing  our  bit,  and  just  to  my  left 
are  seven  German  bodies,  the  result  of  inquisitiveness  on  their  part 
two  nights  ago.  They  are  only  fifty  yards  off,  and  no  one  can  bury 
them  as  they  are  just  between  the  lines.  We  creep  out  at  night,  and 
get  water  and  rations,  and  the  food  supply  has  been  working  admirably, 
luckily,  as  in  this  cold  the  men  must  have  plenty  to  eat. 

Our  guns  have  been  doing  some  good  work  and  have  blown  two 


haystacks  and  a  farm  to  bits  which  the  Germans  were  using  as  artillery 

I  have  not  yet  seen  a  German  aeroplane,  but  ours  appear  every 
day,  and  are  shot  at  by  some  German  gun  to  our  front.  They  fired 
51  shots  at  one  of  ours  yesterday,  and  were  never  near  him,  though 
he  persisted  in  flying  round  and  round  over  their  positions.  They 
have  a  strongish  position  some  hundreds  of  yards  to  our  front, 
and  only  occupy  the  near  fire-trenches  in  the  day-time  to  keep  us 
quiet ! 

It  has  been  snowing  hard,  after  two  nights'  sharp  frost,  and  it 
is  lying  about  two  inches  deep,  except  in  the  foot  of  the  trenches, 
where  by  the  continual  passage  of  men  up  and  down,  it  has  become 
a  freezing  cold  slush  of  mud,  and  chills  one's  boots  right  through. 
We  have  not  changed  our  boots  or  socks  even,  and  far  and  away  the 
worst  part  is  the  cold  in  one's  feet  at  night,  which  makes  sleep 
impossible  for  more  than  half  an  hour  or  so  at  a  time.  Otherwise 
we  are  keeping  pretty  warm  in  our  dug-outs,  and  are  gradually 
getting  a  bit  of  straw  into  them,  where  it  keeps  dry  and  is  warm  to 
lie  on.  We  get  a  certain  amount  of  charcoal  served  out,  but  not 
much,  and  with  old  mess  tins,  with  holes  punched  in  all  over  them, 
get  the  charcoal  going,  spread  two  or  three  oil-sheets  over  the  trench, 
and  with  three  or  four  men  sitting  round,  they  can  get  quite  a  degree 
of  warmth  out  of  it.  I  believe  blankets  are  coming  up,  but  we  must 
get  them  into  the  trenches  dry,  or  they  will  be  no  good  at  all ;  even 
so,  they  can  only  come  in  by  driblets,  as  so  few  men  are  allowed  to 
leave  the  trenches  at  a  time,  and  of  course  only  by  night. 

The  three-quarters  of  a  mile  or  so  of  slush,  across  churned-up 
ploughed  fields  with  deep  ditches  and  well  sprinkled  with  dead  cattle, 
etc.,  is  a  trying  journey,  and  none  too  easy  on  a  dark  night.  The 
first  night  the  ration  parties  and  watering  parties  on  their  way  back 
got  lost,  were  sniped  at  by  the  enemy  and  promptly  "panicoed." 
Instead  of  crouching  and  keeping  stock  still,  they  dropped  the  rations 
and  doubled  about   the    place  like   lost  sheep,  and    finally  arrived    in 


helter-skelter,  by  twos  and  threes,  into  the  trenches  without  any  food  or 
water  ;  and  the  result  was  we  went  hungry  for  the  next  twenty  hours. 
I  cursed  them  to  heaps,  and  had  all  N.C.O.s  up  and  explained  every- 
thing all  over  again  and  took  them  out  and  back  the  next  night  myself. 
At  last  they  cooled  down,  and  are  working  properly  each  night,  and 
with  less  hubbub  and  pandemonium  and  talk  than  at  first. 

You  have  no  idea  how  difficult  it  is  to  work  things  well  under 
trying  circumstances,  when  one  has  hardly  any  good  N.C.O.s  !  How- 
ever, a  week  or  so  of  this  will  teach  them  a  great  deal,  and  it  is  just 
as  well  that  they  can  learn  now  when  we  are  sitting  still  and  not 
fighting  hard.  The  enemy,  for  some  unknown  reason,  have  at  present 
only  one  gun  in  front  of  us,  so  that  we  have  practically  only  had 
rifle-fire  to  deal  with.  But  they  will  see  to  that  deficiency  pretty  soon, 
I  expect.  At  present  it  is  very  gratifying  to  see  and  hear  our  shells 
bursting  just  in  front  of  us,  on  their  positions,  and  to  have  none  in 
return,  but,  as  I  say,  it  will  not  last  long,  unless  they  are  short  of  them, 
or  have  moved  them  all  up  to  the  big  fight  going  on  just  north 
of  us. 

Bubbles  is  going  sick  to-night, — not  serious, — so  that  Pip  and  I 
will  be  running  the  company  with  Swinton  as  ensign.  Tom  Coke 
has  been  sent  off  with  appendicitis,  so  that  we  have  only  George 
Paynter  as  CO.  and  Dick  Coke  the  only  Captain.  Romer  had  to  go 
sick  at  once  and  ought  really  never  to  have  come  up. 

As  I  write  this,  a  mail  has  just  come  in  with  papers,  etc.,  of  the 
1 6th  (astonishingly  quick).  I  see  Jack  Harrison  appears  as  wounded, 
I  do  hope  not  serious  ;  let  me  have  first  possible  definite  news  which 
you  get  of  him.      Also   Frank    Crossley  as   missing.      It  is  very   sad 

about  the  "grand  old  man,"  Bobs.      He  passed  through  when 

we  were  there  the  other  day,  and  the  whole  of  the  troops  shouted 
themselves  silly  and  hoarse  !  But  it  is  a  great  thing  that  he  not 
only  saw  the  war,  against  which  he  had  warned  us  so  long  and  so 
ardently,  but  also  died  within  sound  of  the  guns  of  one  of  the  most 
fiercely  contested  fights  which  there  have  yet  been.     He  was  a  grand 


old  man,  and  Pembroke  told  me  he  saw  him  walking  past  the  troops 
like  a  two-year-old,  erect  and  full  of  vigour.  The  great  thing  is  that 
he  died  as  he  would  have  wished,  near  British  troops  in  battle  and 
successful  against  repeated  attacks  and  heavy  odds. 

The  First  Division  was  decimated  again,  when  the  big  attack  of 
the  Prussian  Guard  struck  them.  The  Guard  had  definite  orders  to 
achieve  what  the  rest  of  the  German  army  had  been  unable  to  do, 
namely,  to  sweep  over  our  trenches.  That  was  the  actual  wording  of 
their  orders.  They  did  it,  and  swept  right  over  the  lines  of  the  First 
Division,  but  were  bayoneted  back  again  by  our  reserves.  They  found 
700  of  the  Prussian  Guard  dead  behind  our  lines  and  over  6000  dead 
and  wounded  in  front.  So  much  for  the  Guard  !  But  our  losses 
were,  of  course,  in  proportion,  and  they  say  that  there  is  only  one 
officer  and  thirty  men  left  of  the  1st  Battalion.  It  is  a  stern  business, 
and  I  don't  know  what  Meat  Lowther  will  find  to  command. 

"Pa"  Heyworth  has  arrived  here  to  take  this  Brigade  (the  20th), 
and  arrived  spotlessly  clean  and  dapper,  but  won't  remain  so  for  long. 
To-night  he  is  dining  at  our  Battalion  Head-quarters,  which  are  in  a 
cellar  of  a  farm  (one  mile  to  our  rear),  which  has  been  blown  to  pieces 
and  burnt.  George  has  cleared  out  the  cellar,  found  some  chairs  and 
a  lot  of  straw,  and  is  doing  himself  proud  there.  However,  to  get 
to  it,  you  have  to  go  through  mud  in  places  a  foot  deep,  so  Pa's 
beautifully  cut  and  polished  field  boots  will  suffer  ! 

I  have  a  week's  beard  and  look  very  sweet ! 

{Continued  24  hours  later.) 

Perfect  day,  bright  sun,  but  hardly  thawing  at  all,  and  still  freezing 
in  shade.  We  have  been  hard  at  it  improving  bomb-proofs  and 
digging  kitchens,  smoking-room  and  young  Ritz  Hotels. 

General  Pa  had  lunch  in  my  dug-out  yesterday  on  his  tour  of 
inspection  down  the  trenches,  and  was  in  great  form. 

I  believe  we  are  to  be  relieved  to-night  for  three  days'  rest  and 
cleaning  up,  and  then  back  again  to  these  same  trenches. 


I  will  write  to-morrow  if  possible,  or  at  latest  the  day  after. 
With  best  love  to  all. 

Ever  your  loving 


21.  i  1. 14. 
P.S. — I    have    a    German's    diary,    which    I    will    send    you    when 
possible.  E.  H. 

Remember  to  enclose  paper  and  envelopes  whenever  you  write. 
Send  nothing  except  cigarettes  and  chocolate  at  present. 

A  small  plum  pudding  in  a  tin  would  be  most  acceptable,  as 
supplied  by  Fortnum  and  Mason,  Piccadilly.  E.  H. 

23. 11. 14. 
My  Dearest  Mother, 

Nothing  from  you  for  a  fortnight,  but  that  is  to  be  expected, 

as  everything  will  have  gone  to  the  remains  of  the  poor  old  1st  Battalion, 

and  will  then  have  been  returned  to  the  base. 

We  were  relieved  the  night  before  last  from  the  trenches,  and  are  now 
in  a  farm  doing  ourselves  bang  up.  I  have  just  had  a  wash  in  half  a 
beer  barrel  and  change  of  underthings  and  feel  several  years  younger  ! 

It  is  still  freezing  hard,  though  the  temperature  has  gone  up  a  bit  and 
it  looks  like  more  snow.  We  have  had  12  or  16  degrees  of  frost  every 
night  for  the  last  five  days,  and  the  country  is  under  snow,  from  one  to 
three  inches  deep.  The  roads  in  places  are  very  bad  for  transport  and 
movement  of  guns,  and  one  has  to  watch  it  marching  at  night  or  one 
takes  a  very  'eavy  fall. 

We  are  in  Divisional  Reserve  while  resting  here,  and  go  back  to  the 
same  trenches  to-morrow  night.  We  have  been  refitting,  resting,  reorgan- 
izing and  generally  shaking  down,  and  eating  enormously  !  The  people 
in  this  farm,  which  has  not  been  damaged,  are  doing  all  they  can  for  us, 


and  we  pay  for  everything,  so  that  they  are  quite  content  and  only  too 
pleased  to  have  us  here  instead  of  les  Huns,  who  billeted  here  for  eight 

Every  single  farm  and  homestead  near  our  trenches,  four  miles  from 
here,  is  knocked  to  atoms  and  blown  to  pieces,  and  a  few  poor  old  cows  are 
wandering  about  with  nothing  to  eat,  ground  frozen  and  no  shed  to  go 
to  at  night.  We  shot  one,  and  have  portioned  her  out  among  the  Battalion, 
and  also  a  stray  pig  found  wandering  down  a  hedge.  We  are  west  of 
Lille,  about  seven  miles.  Posts  are  quite  regular  to  the  trenches,  although 
irregular  from  them. 

My  very  best  love  to  you  all  at  H.  B. 

Ever  your  loving 


27. ii. 14. 

My  Dearest  Mother, 

Back  in  same  trenches  three  nights  ago,  and  stay  here  till 
relieved  again  for  a  rest.  Thaw  and  rain  and  damp  has  followed  the 
hard  weather  and  makes  the  trenches  extremely  unpleasant,  but  we  are 
at  it  all  day,  improving  and  cleaning  them  up,  and  have  very  strict 
sanitation,  which  is  needed,  every  bit  of  it. 

Last  night  I  had  an  exciting  bit  of  work,  detailed  account  of  which  will 
follow  when  I  have  more  time. 

There  was  some  doubt  as  to  what  was  going  on  in  the  German  trenches, 
and  the  Brigadier  ordered  a  small  raiding  party  of  one  officer,  one  N.C.O. 
and  eight  men  to  go  out,  and  try  to  creep  up  to  the  enemies'  trenches,  and 
shoot  a  few.  The  CO.  detailed  R.F.  Coy.  (mine)  to  do  it,  and  T  got 
nine  volunteers. 

We  started  at  1.30  a.m.,  pitch  dark  and  raining,  and  found,  instead  of 
the  thinly  held  line,  as  hitherto,  that  there  were  as  many  Germans  in  their 
trenches  as  we  have  men  in  ours  ;  also  that  they  were  very  much  awake, 
which  they  have  not  been  lately.    We  managed  to  do  the  business,  polished 


off  four  or  five,  and  then  ran  like  hares.  They  opened  on  us  with 
rifle  and  machine-gun  fire,  and  I  think  we  had  a  marked  degree  of  luck 
in  getting  back.  I  lost  two  men,  unfortunately,  but  as  there  was  no  sign 
of  them  to-day,  I  think  they  must  have  overshot  the  mark  in  the  dark, 
and  fallen  into  the  German  trenches.  We  were  plastered  all  round,  but 
none  of  the  rest  of  us  hit. 

I  enclose  two  copies  circulated  to-day  through  the  companies  of  the 
Battalion.  I  have  just  got  to  go  off  to  Head-quarters,  but  will  write 
at  length  at  first  opportunity. 

Very  best  love  to  all. 

Ever  your  loving 


P.S. — Just  received  your  letter  dated  19th. 

We  are  7th  Div.,  20th  Bde., 
4th  Army  Corps,  under  General 

Yes,  Pa  is  Brigadier, 

Capper,  Div.-Commder., 
Alby  Cator,  Brigade  Major. 

George  Paynter  sick,  temperature  and  chill,  I  think,  so  Dick  Coke 
is  CO. 

Several  officers  have  gone  sick. 

29/^  November,   19 14. 

My  Dearest  Mother, 

I  enclose  my  duplicate  copy  of  report  I  sent  in  to  Head-quarters  ; 
you  must  make  allowances  for  moderate  editing  as  written  at  5  a.m.  by 
candle-light  in  a  funk-hole  and  also  in  a  hurry.  You  will  notice  that  our 
barbed  wire  was  very  easily  passed.  This  has  since  been  remedied, 
although  unfortunately  the  Captain  of  the  R.E.  was  killed  by  a  stray  shot 
in  doing  it,  and  two  of  his  men  wounded  in  bringing  him  in. 

The  enemies'  trenches  in  front  of  us  had  been  extraordinarily  quiet 
for  several  days,  especially  at  night,  and  we  had  ascertained  that  they  were 


only  occupied  by  snipers  and  digging  parties  by  day,  and  they  retired  at 
night  into  their  second  line  of  trenches  (main  position),  leaving  just  a  few 
sentries  and  snipers.  It  was  thought  desirable  that  something  should  be 
done  to  find  out,  and  they  detailed  a  raiding  party  of  i  officer,  I  N.C.O. 
and  eight  men  to  carry  this  out.  I  got  an  N.C.O.  and  eight  men  to 
volunteer  with  great  ease  ;  we  were  to  have  started  at  1 1  p.m.,  but  there 
was  a  bright  moon,  and  we  stood  over  till  1.30  a.m.,  when  it  was  pitch 
dark  and  raining.  The  CO.  and  Adjutant  came  down  to  see  us  off,  and 
give  us  instructions,  namely,  to  get  right  up  to  the  trenches,  peep  over  if 
not  spotted,  select  our  marks,  fire  two  rounds  rapid,  and  kill  all  we  could, 
and  then  each  man  for  himself.  On  an  ordinary  night  we  could  probably 
have  done  this,  as  their  trenches  were  lightly  held  and  sentries  apt  to  be 
sleepy  ;  but  when  we  had  got  half  way  some  firing  opened  away  on  the 
right,  I  think  by  the  Border  Regiment.  This  put  the  enemy  on  the  alert, 
and  by  then  I  had  satisfied  myself  that  there  were  just  as  many  of  the  enemy 
in  their  trenches,  as  of  us  in  our  trenches,  an  unpleasant  conclusion  to  arrive 
at,  when  we  were  supposed  to  be  raiding  a  lightly  held  trench  !  A  little 
further  on  I  made  certain  of  this,  as  I  saw  five  fires,  or  rather  the  reflections 
of  them  (as  they  were  in  dug-outs  and  bomb-proofs  and  one  could  just 
see  the  reflection  on  bits  of  smoke  which  penetrated  through)  within  a 
space  of  50  or  60  yards  !  These  were  charcoal  fires  with  a  bit  of  wood 
burning  probably.  The  fire  I  was  making  for  was  a  proper  wood  fire, 
shewing  a  lot  of  smoke,  and  it  was  there  that  I  hoped  to  be  able  to  peep 
over  and  find  a  little  group  of  men  to  polish  off.  Progress  was  very  slow 
indeed,  as  it  was  all  crawling  on  hands  and  knees  over  turnips,  and  only 
four  or  five  yards  at  a  time,  and  then  "  lie  doggo  "  and  listen.  Their 
sentries  to  our  front  were  firing  every  now  and  then  at  our  trenches,  but 
all  bullets  passed  over  us,  and  we  could  locate  them  by  the  flash  of  the  rifle. 
All  went  well  up  to  about  1 5  yards,  when  I  extended  from  single  file, 
to  the  right  towards  this  fire.  We  did  another  5  yards  and  I  had  given 
instructions  that  directly  I  loosed  off  my  rifle,  we  should  double  forward, 
select  marks,  do  all  damage  possible,  and  make  off.  I  had  seen  where  the 
sentry  in  front  of  me  was,  and  told  the  scout  to  fire  at  the  top  of  the 


parapet,  in  case  he  had  his  head  over,  and  that  I  would  fire  at  the  place 
where  the  flash  of  the  rifle  appeared.  We  could  only  just  make  out  the 
line  of  the  top  of  the  parapet  at  ten  yards'  distance. 

We  were  just  advancing  again  when  the  swine  called  out  in  King's 
English,  quite  well  pronounced,  "  Halt,  who  goes  there,"  and  fired  straight 
between  the  scout  and  myself ;  he  immediately  fired  where  I  had  told  him, 
and  I  fired  at  the  point  of  the  flash  of  the  rifle,  and  there  was  a  high-pitched 
groan  ;  at  the  same  time  we  all  doubled  up  to  the  foot  of  the  parapet, 
saw  dim  figures  down  in  the  trenches,  bustling  about,  standing  to  arms, 
and  my  N.C.O.  fired  the  trench  bomb  right  into  the  little  party  by  the 
fire.  The  other  fellows  all  loosed  off"  their  two  rounds  rapid  ;  there  were 
various  groans  audible  in  the  general  hubbub,  and  we  then  ran  like  hares. 
The  minute  the  alarm  was  given  they  threw  something  on  the  fire  which 
made  it  flare  up,  and  the  machine  gun,  which  we  knew  nothing  about, 
opened  just  to  my  left.  I  had  time  to  see  that  it  was  in  a  little  shelter, 
with  a  light  inside,  visible  through  the  slit  (for  traversing)  and  they  had 
evidently  just  lighted  up  to  set  the  gun  going.  They  had  already  stood 
to  arms  by  the  time  we  had  turned  tail,  and  they  and  the  machine  gun 
opened  a  very  hot  fire  on  us.  I  ran  about  30  yards,  and  then  took  a 
"  heavy  "  into  the  mud  and  slush  of  the  ploughed  field  and  lay  still  for 
a  minute  to  find  out  where  the  machine-gun  bullets  were  going.  They 
were  just  over  me  and  to  the  right,  so  when  I  got  up  again  and  turned  half 
left  instead  of  half  right,  as  I  had  been  going  originally,  and  did  another 
30  yards  or  so.  I  found  that  the  bullets  were  all  round  me,  so  fell  flat 
and  waited  another  half  minute  or  so,  until  they  seemed  to  alter  the 
direction  of  their  fire  a  bit.  Then  another  run,  and  a  heavy  fall  bang  into 
our  barbed  wire,  which  was  quite  invisible,  and  which  I  thought  was 
further  off.  These  short  sprints  were  no  easy  matter,  as  one  carried 
about  an  acre  of  wet  clay  and  mud  on  each  foot.  I  had  to  lie  flat  and 
disentangle  myself,  and  at  that  moment  their  machine  gun  swerved  round 
and  plastered  away  directly  over  my  head  not  more  than  2  or  3  feet.  I 
waited  again  till  it  changed,  and  then  ran  like  the  devil  for  our  trenches. 
I  had  lost  direction  a  bit,  and  came  on  them  sooner  than  I  expected,  and 


took  a  flying  leap  right  over  the  parapet  down  about  9  or  10  feet  into  the 
trench.  We  had  gone  out  on  our  extreme  right,  up  the  above-mentioned 
ditch,  and  I  found  that  I  came  in  about  50  yards  to  the  right  into  the 
Borderers'  trenches  (they  had  relieved  the  Grenadiers). 

Barring  my  rifle  hitting  me  a  good  thump  on  the  head  as  I  fell  into 
our  trenches,  and  a  bullet  hole  through  the  skirt  of  my  coat,  I  was  sound 
and  whole,  although  extremely  out  of  breath,  and  with  a  completely  dry 
and  salt  taste  in  my  mouth  (the  latter  chiefly  attributable  to  the  intense 
anxiety  to  avoid  the  machine-gun  fire).  I  had  appointed  a  place  of 
meeting  for  my  men,  and  unfortunately  only  six  turned  up  with  the  N.C.O. 
They  had  come  in  at  every  conceivable  point ;  one  who  lost  his  direction 
had  come  in  400  yards  down  the  line  ;  I  am  sure  that  the  two  missing 
had  tripped  up  over  the  foot  of  the  enemy's  parapet,  and  fallen  into  their 
trenches,  having  misjudged  the  distance  ;  I  myself  very  nearly  did  it,  and 
was  just  able  to  stop  only.  From  what  I  could  see  in  the  pitch  darkness 
the  trench  curved  out  towards  us  on  the  right,  and  whereas  I  had  to  run 
8  yards  or  so,  the  men  on  the  right  had  only  four  or  five  yards  to  do  ; 
hence  their  probable  error  of  judgment,  and  probable  headlong  fall  into 
the  trench  in  front.  The  men  behaved  admirably,  and  although  we  all 
had  coughs  and  colds,  there  was  never  a  cough  or  noise  of  any  sort,  and 
our  method  of  advance  was,  of  course,  a  very  trying  one  ;  men  will  always 
charge  all  right,  but  quietly  crawling  along  in  single  file,  taking  half  an 
hour  to  do  ninety  yards,  is  a  great  test  of  the  men,  and  they  did  it  per- 
fectly. It  was  very  good  for  them,  and  they  were  pleased  beyond  words 
when  a  list  of  their  names  was  asked  for  afterwards,  and  "Pa"  compli- 
mented them. 

The  great  thing  was  that  we  found  that  the  enemy  had  brought  up 
machine  guns,  tripled  their  numbers  in  the  trenches,  and  were  very  much 
awake  and  could  stand  to  arms  at  a  moment's  notice  ;  all  of  which  was 
very  different  from  reports  about  them  from  our  scouts  on  previous 
nights.  The  CO.  and  Adjutant  frankly  told  me  that  they  did  not 
expect  many  to  get  back,  and  it  was  by  lying  flat  that  we  avoided  more 
casualties.     A  great  many  bullets  hit  our  parapet,  directly  in  the  line  on 


which  we  doubled  back,  and  it  was  just  as  well  that  we  did  not  try  to 
double  straight  in  without  a  stop. 

One  more  incident  ;  when  in  single  file  before  we  extended,  the 
order  was  as  follows — Two  scouts,  self,  N.C.O.  (with  patent  bomb  stuck 
in  the  barrel  of  his  rifle),  then  the  six  men.  Twice  when  I  touched  the 
scout  in  front  (which  was  the  signal  to  stop,  lie  flat  and  listen),  the 
N.C.O.  behind  me,  not  seeing  in  the  darkness  that  I  had  stopped,  ran 
the  ghastly  grenade  into  my  back.  It  was  all  ready  fitted  into  the  rifle, 
with  its  special  cartridge  in  the  breech,  and  although  the  safety  catch  was 
back,  it  frightened  me  far  more  than  the  enemy  in  front.  At  20  yards 
from  their  trenches  I  stopped  to  extend,  and  incidentally  to  pull  a  little 
pin  out  of  the  neck  of  the  grenade,  which  started  it  off  ready  to  be  fired. 
The  N.C.O.  and  I  both  hated  the  infernal  machine,  and  thought  it  would 
go  off*  at  any  moment.  Of  course  we  had  never  seen  one  before,  and 
did  not  know  how  it  would  behave.  However,  he  got  it  off  all  right  at 
the  crucial  moment ;  there  was  a  very  bright  flash  down  in  the  trench, 
but  we  had  no  time  to  estimate  the  damage  that  it  did. 

I  went  out  quietly  alone  to  within  25  yards  of  the  trenches  at  a 
different  point  last  night,  and  heard  talking,  saw  fires,  and  established 
that  the  other  part  of  the  line  is  more  strongly  held  also  than  hitherto. 
They  have  an  absolute  network  of  trenches  and  communication — ditto  to 
the  rear. 

Everything  pretty  quiet  to-day  ;  usual  sniping  by  both  sides. 
The  dirty  brutes  will  not  bury  their  dead,  and  leave  them  just  in 
front  of  their  trenches  ;  opposite  me  there  are  5  or  6  which  have  been 
lying  there  for  ten  days,  and  are  only  about  10  or  12  yards  in  front  of 
their  trenches.     Need  I  mention  that  the  prevailing  wind  is  towards  us  ? 

So  glad  John  Dyer  and  Jack  are  doing  well — best  love  to  all — send 

me  all  news  possible. 

Ever  your  loving 


P.S. — I  love  the  mothers'  meeting  remark. 


2jth  November,  1914. 

From  Lt.  Sir  E.  Hulse 

To  O.C.  2nd  Battn.  Scots  Guards. 


I  have  the  honour  to  report  that  at  1.30  a.m.  this  morning,  in  accord- 
ance with  instructions  received,  I  went  out  to  the  German  trenches  with  an  N.C.O. 
and  eight  men  who  had  volunteered.  Starting  from  the  right  of  the  Coy.  lines, 
I  followed  a  ditch  running  from  right  to  left  across  our  front  for  a  distance  of 
80  yards.  I  then  crossed  from  the  left  side  to  the  right,  passing  through  our 
wire  (2  strands,  very  easily  passed) .  The  party  was  in  single  file,  and  I  did 
not  extend  until  within  25  yards  of  the  enemy.  Progress  was  very  slow  owing 
to  the  nature  of  the  ground  consisting  of  roots  chiefly. 

When  extending  to  the  right  towards  one  of  several  fires  which  we  saw  burning, 
a  brisk  fire  was  opened  away  on  our  right  by  the  Borderers,  and  the  enemy  was 
put  on  the  alert.  I  heard  a  good  deal  of  talking  and  could  now  see  the  reflection 
of  five  fires. 

I  advanced  on  the  nearest  of  these,  and  when  within  about  ten  yards,  a  sentry 
challenged  in  English,  "  Halt !  who  goes  there  ?  "  He  fired,  the  bullet  passed 
between  the  leading  scout  and  myself,  and  we  doubled  forward  to  the  parapet. 
Two  rounds  rapid  were  fired  by  us  at  each  of  the  groups  by  the  two  fires  in  front 
of  us,  during  which  time  the  enemy  stood  to  arms  and  opened  a  heavy  fire  on  us 
as  we  retired. 

My  N.C.O.  fired  the  bomb  served  out  to  us,  right  into  the  trench  ;  there 
was  not  a  loud  explosion,  but  a  bright  light. 

It  was  very  dark  indeed,  and  figures  could  only  be  made  out  with  difficulty, 
in  the  trenches. 

I  had  ordered  each  man  to  shift  for  himself  after  firing.  The  enemy  opened 
on  us  retiring  with  a  machine-gun;  most  of  the  shots,  however,  passed  to  our 
right.  I  am  practically  certain  that  this  m.-g.,  of  which  we  knew  nothing,  is 
situated  in  a  small  shelter  by  a  solitary  willow-tree,  to  the  right  of  the  ditch 
up  which  we  advanced.     It  was  about  ten  yards  to  my  left  when  it  opened. 


/  saw  a  light  inside  some  form  of  shelter,  standing  out  from  the  general 
line  of  the  parapet. 

The  enemies'  trenches  were  more  strongly  manned  than  hitherto,  and  I 
place  the  number  at  the  point  of  our  raid  as  equal  to  that  in  our  own  trenches. 
I  believe  that  fresh  troops  and  m.-gs.  have  been  brought  up  during  the  last  two 

I  found  no  wire  in  front  of  their  trenches.  The  enemy  was  far  more  alert 
than  usual. 

It  is  impossible  to  state  the  number  of  the  enemy  hit  by  our  fire,  but  the 
leading  scout  and  I  can  account  for  one  from  our  own  rifle-fire,  and  I  take 
it  that  not  less  than  four  of  the  enemy  were  hit  by  the  rifle-fire  of  the  rest  of  the 

This  is  exclusive  of  the  damage  done  by  the  grenade,  which  was  directed 
at  a  group  dimly  visible  in  the  smoke  of  a  fire,  and  which  burst  right  inside 
the  trench. 

I  regret  to  report  two  men  missing  ;  scouts  were  sent  out  later,  but  could 
find  no  trace. 

I  have  the  honour  to  be,  Sir, 

Your  obedient  Servant, 

(Signed)  EDWARD  H.  W.  HULSE, 

Lt.  R.F.  Coy., 
2/Btt.  Scots  Guards. 

5.15  a.m. 

2. 12. 14. 

My  Dearest  Mother, 

Back  in  billets  again  for  three  days,  after  seven  in  the  trenches. 
Dick  Coke  was  shot  in  the  shoulder  the  day  before  yesterday,  while 
digging  in  rear  of  the  firing-line,  at  our  Head-quarters.  I  think  a  stray 
bullet,  of  which  there  were  a  good  many  at  the  time.  He  is  getting  on 
all  right,  I  believe.     That  leaves  us  without  a  Captain  at  all,  and  Giles 


Loder,  a  subaltern,  is  doing  CO.  George  Paynter,  Alby  Cator  and 
C.  Fox  have  got  D.S.O.  I  hope  George  will  be  well  enough  to  come 
back  soon.  They  have  started  giving  officers  a  few  days'  leave,  and 
Fitzwygram  went  off  to  England  for  three  or  four  days,  the  day  before 
yesterday.  If  I  get  any  I  will  let  you  know  probable  date,  but  as  we  are 
so  short  now  I  cannot  see  that  they  will  give  any  more  leave.  If  they  do, 
it  takes  Pip  Warner  next.  He  and  I  have  been  having  a  rare  time  with 
Right  Flank  Coy.  The  N.C.O.s  are  improving;  we  have  been  promoting 
men  from  the  ranks,  and  corporals  to  sergeants,  to  replace  the  absolute 
stumers  that  came  out  with  the  drafts,  which  made  the  Battalion  up  when 
I  joined  it  at  Bailleul. 

As  usual,  the  long  and  short  of  it  is,  that  whether  it  is  a  serious  matter, 
or  only  digging  latrines,  or  cleaning  up,  the  whole  thing  devolves  upon 
the  officer,  and  one  has  to  stand  there  and  see  it  done  oneself,  and  even 
show  the  N.C.O.s  how  to  do  the  simplest  things  oneself. 

The  other  night,  after  two  hours'  sleep,  I  woke  up  and  thought  I  had 
better  go  down  the  trenches  to  see  that  everything  was  all  right.  Of 
course  I  found  one  whole  platoon  in  the  most  hectic  state  ever  seen. 
Not  a  sentry  on  the  alert,  the  N.C.O.  on  duty  sitting  down  instead  of 
patrolling  his  lines,  and  ioo  other  things.  Any  enterprising  20  or  30 
Huns  could  have  simply  walked  right  in  ;  unless  one  is  at  it  day  and 
night,  nothing  is  done. 

There  are  individuals,  scouts,  etc.,  volunteers  and  picked  men,  who 
are  priceless,  and  worth  a  whole  platoon  in  themselves,  but,  by  Jove,  one 
has  to  work  at  the  rest.  The  unfortunate  part  was  having  every  single 
one  of  our  serving  N.C.O.s  knocked  out  when  the  Battalion  took  the 
knock  originally.  As  half  of  them  don't  seem  to  understand  English, 
or  any  other  language  for  that  matter,  I  have  kept  myself  busy  in 
spare  moments  writing  "  standing  orders  "  for  the  trenches.  They  were 
circulated  to  all  N.C.O.s  in  the  trenches,  and  I  got  much  better  results, 
and  could  drop  on  a  fellow  more  heavily  if  they  were  not  complied  with. 
I  have  broken  three  this  morning,  and  replaced  them  with  three  jolly 
good  men  from  the  ranks,  and  "  things  is  movin'  now  "  ! 


Our  first  day  in  billets  is  always  a  rare  old  field-day  of  getting  straight 
after  the  week  in  the  trenches.  This  last  week  was  infinitely  more  com- 
fortable than  the  one  before,  as  they  over-fed  us,  if  anything  ;  and  we 
were  warmer,  what  with  higher  temperature  and  extra  "comforts"  sent  up. 
Also,  we  had  improved  dug-outs  and  bomb-proofs,  and  our  Ritz  Hotel 
is  a  grand  success.  Swinton  and  I  sleep  in  it,  and  Pip  comes  along  to 
feed.  We  have  dug  a  big  kitchen  just  in  rear  for  the  servants  and 
cooking,  and  altogether  we  do  ourselves  proud.  They  have  served  out  goat 
skins  in  the  shape  of  waistcoats,  for  the  trenches  ;  these  remain  in  the 
trenches,  and  are  handed  over  to  relieving  battalions.  They  have  the  fur 
outside,  and  are  like  short  hairy  motoring  coats.  They  are  used  chiefly 
for  sentries  at  night,  and  we  look  thoroughly  comic  in  them. 

At  present  1  am  doing  a  sort  of  Adjutant,  though  I  have  to  do  my 
company  work  as  well.  Whether  I  shall  do  proper  Adjutant  when  we  go 
back  to  trenches  the  day  after  to-morrow,  I  don't  know.  Giles  is  doing 
CO.  and  Adjutant  together  at  present.  The  King  was  here  last  night. 
The  Border  Regiment  (which  subsequently  relieved  us  two  hours  late) 
supplied  "  Guard  of  Honour,"  and  I  believe  that  he  is  not  far  off  to-day. 

Please  thank  O.  very  much  indeed  for  socks,  which  came  at  a  most 
welcome  moment,  and  have  benefited  Pip  as  well  as  myself.  They  will 
last  me  at  least  a  month.  Please  ask  Winter,  Conduit  Street,  to  send  me 
out  a  pair  of  stocking-puttees  ;  they  are  a  special  make  and  far  more 
serviceable  than  the  ordinary  brand.  The  chocolate  enclosed  with  socks 
was  much  appreciated. 

I  have  got  your  letter  of  25th.  So  glad  shoot  is  working  well  ;  I 
expect  they  had  all  they  could  do  to  hit  them  at  the  Limekiln  and  Miz- 
Maze.  I  have  seen  an  account  of  Jeanie's  wedding  in  a  paper.  I  was 
much  amused  at  your  description  of  Peter's  behaviour  :    priceless  ! 

As  a  comment  on  your  allusion  to  stoves  in  the  trenches  : — Pip  had 
one  sent  out,  and  it  has  just  arrived  minus  its  inside  and  all  oil.  This  had 
been  carefully  removed  on  the  way  ! 

Delighted  to  hear  Hobson  getting  on  well,  tell  him  I  hope  to  see  him 
here  in  the  2nd  Battalion,  when  he  comes  out  again;    and  tell   him  to 


mention  the  fact  that  I  have  asked  for  him  to  rejoin  me  here  (in  case 
they  want  to  send  him  to  the  ist  Battalion).  He  must  not  hurry  out 
though,  as  he  must  have  had  a  good  doing,  and  is  lucky  to  have  got  through 
it.  In  case  he  or  his  people  want  cash,  his  pay  was  10/-  a  week  from 
Aug.  nth  to  Sept.  2 ist,  when  I  left  the  trenches.  This,  of  course,  is 
what  I  pay  him,  regardless  of  his  Army  pay.  If  he  wants  it,  please  pay  him 
and  keep  note  against  me. 

I  have  just  got  your  chocolate  from  A.  and  N.  Stores,  and  warm,  woolly 
cap,  for  which  many  thanks.  The  cap  is  excellent,  as  hitherto  I  had  only 
the  ordinary  men's  stocking-cap,  service  pattern. 

Another  letter  shortly. 

Very  best  love  to  you  and  O. 

Ever  your  loving 


ii. 12. 14. 

My  Dearest  Mother, 

Just  been  relieved  by  Grenadiers,  King's  Coy.,  and  we  and 
they  are  now  always  going  to  relieve  each  other,  which  will  simplify 
matters   a  good   deal   in   the   matter   of  taking  over    trenches.     Every 

time  we  took  over  from  the or  they  were  about  two  hours 

late  relieving  us,  and  never  carried  on  the  work  we  had  been  doing 
properly  ;  result — a  good  deal  of  unpleasant  bickering,  which  is  very 
undesirable  between  battalions. 

I  have  got  all  your  letters  and  parcels  now.  They  came  in  a 
rush,  and  everything  is  coming  regularly  now.  I  have  got  O.'s  socks, 
your  Balaclava  helmet,  three  lots  of  chocolate,  a  plum-pudding,  Lady 
Hall's  things,  etc.  Please  thank  her  a  thousand  times,  and  say  that  I 
did  not  know  who  the  kind  benefactress  was. 

I  regret  more  than  I  can  say  not  being  able  to  talk  German,  as 
time   and   again    I   have  heard   conversations  in   their   trenches  which  I 

should  like  to  have  been   able  to  report,  and  every  word  of  which  I 
could  hear,  but  could  not  understand. 

Ottley  (one  of  our  five  months'  Sandhurst  lot)  is  a  cousin  of 
Bruce.  He  talks  German  well,  and  crawled  out  the  night  before  last 
with  two  scouts.  He  heard  two  officers  talking  about  their  dug-out, 
and  saying  that  our  machine  gun  had  killed  three  of  their  men  the 
night  before  while  they  were  digging  the  dug-out  for  these  two 
officers.  We  dig  our  own  !  He  also  found  out  that  they  have  got 
good  discipline  in  front  of  us,  as  just  as  he  got  near  to  their  trenches, 
there  were  several  Germans  talking  aloud  in  the  trenches,  and  an 
officer  told  them  to  shut  up,  and  they  boxed  up  complete  !  (That's 
more  than  some  of  our  bright  little  lot  do  ;  some  of  these  old  hairies 
who  served  in  South  Africa  are  the  devil  to  deal  with.) 

Pip  has  been  on  leave  and  said  he  would  try  and  see  you,  so  I 
have  been  in  command  of  R.F.  Co.  A  perfectly  hectic  time  taking 
over  the  Grenadiers'  trenches,  as  we  did  five  days  ago.  Every  night 
pouring  rain,  and  more  and  more  of  the  trenches  fell  in,  landslides 
everywhere,  and  as  fast  as  one  dug,  one  fell,  and  had  revetted  it,  or 
shored  it  up  properly,  another  bit  of  trench  would  come  down  with  a 
run.  My  Company  Sergeant  Major  went  on  leave  with  Pip,  so  that 
I  had  only  an  acting  C.S.M.,  totally  incompetent,  and  Swinton  the 
only  other  officer.  You  will  readily  understand  that  that  meant  very 
little  sleep  night  or  day  !  I  found  the  accommodation  in  the  trenches 
very  bad  and  anything  but  rain-proof.  Having  no  time  to  dig  myself, 
I  got  two  defaulters  on  to  a  new  Ritz-Carlton,  and  the  servants  on  to 
a  kitchen  and  bug-hutch  for  themselves,  the  whole  connected  by  a  neat 
little  trench,  and  after  two  days'  hard  work  the  new  Coy.  Head-quarters 
were  completed  ;  and  having  a  little  more  time  to  myself,  Swinton 
and  I  did  the  skilled  labour,  namely  fitting  up  the  inside  and  roofing — 
the  latter  we  did  quite  extraordinarily  well,  and  in  the  most  scientific 
manner.  It  is  quite  rain-proof  and  proof  from  shrapnel,  and  luxurious 
beyond  words.  Little  recesses,  cut  in  the  walls,  hold  a  young  library, 
food,  plum  puddings,  and  all  the  more  valuable  comestibles  and  drinks, 


which  we  do  not  trust  in  the  servants'  cook-house  dug-out.  The 
inside,  well  lined  with  straw,  is  warm  and  well  lit  by  a  small  oil 
lamp,  supplemented  by  candles,  for  which  we  have  cut  little  recesses. 
In  short,  the  interior  looks  exactly  like  a  shrine  in  a  crypt !  All 
this  is  all  very  well,  but  the  trenches  are  inches  deep  in  mud  and 
water,  and  far  worse  than  the  ones  we  occupied  before.  The  men's 
bug-hutches  are  far  worse  than  before,  where  we  had  made  proper 
section  dug-outs,  but  we  are  beginning  all  over  again,  and  these  fellows 
dig  pretty  well  when  it  is  for  their  own  comfort. 

We  are  now  varying  between  350  yards — 500  yards  from  the 
enemy  ;  I  mean  the  trenches  we  have  just  left  are.  You  will  remember 
that  our  old  trenches  were  only  100  yards  from  the  enemy  in  places  ; 
but  they  make  pretty  good  practice  at  us,  and  I  had  one  man  killed 
the  first  day  in  our  new  trenches,  and  two  wounded.  They  had  all 
three  shown  themselves,  contrary  to  my  orders,  thinking  that,  as  they 
were  further  off,  they  could  put  not  only  their  heads  but  most  of 
themselves  outside  the  cover  of  the  trenches. 

I  have  accounted  for  two  Germans  myself,  one  on  the  night  of 
the  raid,  whom  I  share  with  the  scout  who  was  next  me.  We  both 
fired  at  once.  The  other  I  bagged  two  days  ago,  a  fair  shot  at 
400  yards  ;  he  was  carrying  wood  along  his  parapet,  and  he  threw 
up  both  arms  and  went  by  the  board  properly. 

Am  delighted  that  you  got  the  various  messages  about  the  raiding 
party,  though  it  seems  to  have  attained  larger  proportions  than 
it  deserves.  What  annoyed  me  most  was  that  owing  to  the  enemy 
having  been  reinforced,  we  could  not  bag  a  prisoner,  or  even  bring  in 
"  fresh  meat,"  or  a  cap  or  badge,  which  was  what  the  General  really 
wanted.  If  it  had  come  off  two  nights  earlier,  I  believe  we  might 
have  done  a  big  thing. 

Please  thank  O.  for  her  letter  of  congratulations  and  say  I  shall 
write  on  first  opportunity.  Uncle  Baa  has  also  written.  Please  thank 
Gramps  for  the  cigarettes,  and  give  him  my  best  love.  He  will 
understand  that  writing  is  difficult,  except  when  in  billets,  as  now  and 


then  even  we  are  just  as  busy,  and  I  leave  it  to  you  to  pass  on  any 
news  to  relatives  from  my  letters.  I  love  Gramps'  remark  on  my 
exploit !  It  rather  tallies  with  a  letter  which  I  have  just  got  from 
Charlie  Stanford,  but  puts  it  in  a  much  more  terse  and  business-like 
way  !  Charlie  spends  a  whole  page  on  congratulations,  and  another 
whole  page  on  advice  not  to  do  it  again  !     Priceless  ! 

I  had  a  very  nice  letter  from  Aunt  May  in  reply  to  a  hasty  letter 
I  sent  her  ;    the  loss  must  be  tremendous  to  her. 

I  was  most  amused  at  what  you  said  about  Breamore  village  con- 
necting my  raid  with  the  Daily  Mail  heading  as  to  finish  of  fight  in 
Flanders  !  By-the-by  we  have  been  in  extreme  N.E.  France,  not 
Belgium,  for  four  weeks  ;   we  are  just  off  the  border,  near  Lille. 

Yes,  please  continue  chocolate,  plum  puddings,  etc.,  but  send  no 
clothing  of  any  sort  until  I  ask  for  it,  as  I  have  some  over  still. 

Very  best  love  to  you  and  O.,  and  another  letter  at  first 

Ever  your  loving 


P.S. — Awful  hurry.  Have  just  heard  that  I  have  got  to  change 
billets  in  pouring  rain  ! 


My  Dearest  Mother, 

All  best  wishes  to  you  and  any  of  the  family  you  may  see  for 
Christmas.  I  have  not  had  a  minute  to  write,  so  as  to  time  this  letter  for 
the  25th.  The  following  is  the  reason.  Three  days  ago  we  were  to  have 
been  relieved,  and  to  have  come  to  these  billets  (where  as  you  know,  the 
best  facilities  for  writing  are  afforded).  That  day  Kit  Cator  was  wounded, 
and  I  was  given  "  G  Coy."  in  his  place,  and  removed  from  R.F.  Coy.,  to 
which  Pip  had  just  returned  from  leave.  There  was  some  move  in  the 
air,  we  knew,  also  as  I  was  to  have  started  for  a  week's  leave  on  the  14th, 


and  had  got  my  things  ready,  when  at  the  last  moment  all  leave  for  officers 
and  N.C.O.s  was  cancelled.  I  had  had  mine  granted,  as  I  said,  and  leave 
being  cancelled  at  such  short  notice,  meant  that  there  was  something  on 
foot ! 

That  something  came  the  night  before  last.  George  summoned  Coy. 
Commanders  to  a  pow-wow,  and  told  us,  (at  noon)  that  we  were  to  attack 
the  German  trenches  at  6  p.m.  I  cannot  put  down  details  fully  as  I  should 
like  to,  but  we  attacked  with  two  Coys,  and  the  Borderers  on  our  left,  and 
two  Coys.,  including  mine,  were  in  reserve  in  our  fire-trenches.  Directly 
the  attack  was  launched,  we  began  digging  communication  trenches  under 
fire,  (a  dirty  task)  towards  the  line  of  German  trenches  which  our  other 
two  Coys,  had  taken.  We  held  part  of  their  trenches  for  varying  from 
6  to  1 1  hrs.,  but  gradually  had  to  fall  back  to  our  own  again,  as  the  troops 
on  our  left  never  reached  the  German  trenches,  and  the  enemy  had  a  strong 
second  line,  which  made  it  untenable  for  us,  except  in  far  larger  numbers 
than  we  had. 

I  will  relate  amusing  details  later,  when  we  can  put  more  in  writing. 
Five  of  our  fellows  literally  lynched  a  German  officer,  and  finally,  when 
ordered  to  return  to  our  trenches,  came  back  with  three  candles,  two  boxes 
of  sweets,  three  boxes  of  cigars,  lots  of  papers  belonging  to  him,  two  rings 
off"  his  fingers,  an  iron  cross,  another  medal,  some  very  low  and  vulgar 
postcards  and  a  photo  of  himself.  He  was  a  fat  and  very  bourgeois 
vulgarian,  and  wore  a  'eavy  beard.  They  state  that  they  caught  him 
polishing  off  one  of  our  officers  (who  was  already  wounded)  with  his 
revolver.  They  had  completely  gone  through  his  "  dug-out "  and  found 
it  extremely  "  well  appointed  "  ! 

At  one  time  I  was  sent  to  get  more  of  our  reserves  out  of  communica- 
tion trenches,  with  more  tools  for  digging,  and  had  a  narrow  escape  from  a 
"  Minen-Werfer  "  (or  whatever  they  call  their  trench  bombs).  It  plastered 
me  with  mud,  etc.,  but  no  fragment  hit  me  ;  I  think  it  must  have  been  a 
faulty  burst,  as  it  was  so  close  and  did  no  damage. 

Ottley,  who  had  to  take  one  of  my  platoons  to  carry  a  portion  of  the 
German  trenches  which  our  first  line  had  failed  to  do,  was  badly  wounded 


in  the  neck.  I  have  heard  all  about  him  from  a  corporal  who  got  him 
back  under  heavy  fire,  and  whose  name  I  am  sending  up  to  be  u  men- 
tioned "  for  "  good  work  under  heavy  fire."  Although  severely  wounded 
Ottley  got  up  and  tried  to  get  his  men  on  and  actually  reached  the  German 
parapet,  when  he  fell  again  and  was  carried  back  by  the  corporal  I  men- 
tioned above.  The  doctor  says  he  will  get  all  right,  but  the  nerves  in  his 
neck  and  shoulder  are  affected.  He  is  a  d — d  plucky  fellow,  and  did  very 
well  indeed.  Owing  to  losses  in  officers  and  men,  we  have  hardly  a  minute 
now,  and  are  kept  at  it  reconstructing,  reorganizing  and  refitting,  and  we 
have  lost  some  of  the  few  good  N.C.O.s  as  well  as  officers.  We  know 
nothing  of  Hugh  Taylor,  or  Dick  Nugent  or  Hanbury-Tracy.  Saumarez 
is  severely  wounded,  and  may  lose  his  hand.  He  was  pluckier  than  any- 
thing I  have  yet  seen,  as  he  also  had  a  bullet  in  his  side,  apart  from  half 
his  hand  (right)  blown  off,  and  persisted  in  saying  that  it  was  so  damnable 
that  he  would  not  be  able  to  play  polo  again  ! 

Fitzwygram  had  a  graze  on  the  side  of  the  head  ;  it  knocked  him  out, 
but  he  walked  all  right  afterwards.  I  don't  think  it  has  affected  the  skull. 
It  was  a  dirty  business  being  in  reserve  and  having  to  do  spade  work 
during  all  the  excitement ;  however  there  was  not  much  time  for  thinking. 
Nearly  all  our  casualties  were  due  to  fire  from  a  second  line  of  trenches  ; 
the  enemy  in  the  first  line  of  trenches  which  we  attacked  did  not  fire  much, 
and  kept  their  heads  well  down  !  We  took  a  young  fellow  prisoner  whom 
two  of  our  men  found  crouching,  well  out  of  the  way,  in  a  dug-out !  He 
was  a  "  Jaeger." 

We  killed  and  wounded  a  good  number  of  the  enemy,  and  I  believe 
our  shrapnel  did  a  big  thing  amongst  the  reserves  which  they  were  hurry- 
ing up. 

We  probably  lost  more  than  the  enemy,  as  we  were  the  attackers. 

The  enemy  kept  on  passing  down  orders  "  Scots  Guards,  retire,"  etc., 
all  in  good  English,  but  we  had  foreseen  and  forewarned  !  I  have  not 
a  minute  to  write  anyone  else  at  all.  Please  thank  Gramps  ever  so  much 
for  his  letter  of  congratulations  and  cigarettes,  and  tell  him  that  at  present 
I  want  nothing  sent  out,  as  we  are  full  of  food  and  comforts.     Also  thank  O. 


a  thousand  times  for  her  parcel  with  caramels,  etc.,  and  warm  waistcoat, 
also  one  pair  stocking  puttees.  Buzzard  cake  has  arrived,  and  I  have  just 
got  your  letter  of  Dec.  15th.  I  am  receiving  a  large  number  of  parcels 
addressed  O.C.  G.  Coy.  for  distribution  amongst  my  men,  and  in  half 
the  cases  do  not  know  how  to  acknowledge  receipt  of  them  or  whom  to 
thank.  Delighted  to  hear  about  Uncle  Mi ;  am  sure  his  fellows  will  do 

The (Territorial)  have  not  quite  shaken  down  yet,  in  fact  the 

other  day,  when  occupying  the  trenches  next  to  us,  they  had  given  up  the 
ghost  complete  ;  it  had  been  pouring,  and  mud  lay  deep  in  the  trenches  ; 
they  were  caked  from  head  to  foot,  and  I  have  never  seen  anything  like 
their  rifles  !  Not  one  would  work,  and  they  were  just  lying  about  in  the 
trenches  getting  stiff  and  cold.  One  fellow  had  got  both  his  feet  jammed 
in  the  clay,  and  when  told  to  get  up  by  an  officer,  had  to  get  on  all  fours  ; 
he  then  got  his  hands  stuck  in  too,  and  was  caught  like  a  fly  on  a  fly-paper  ; 
all  he  could  do  was  to  look  round  and  say  to  his  pals,  "For  Gawd's  sake, 
shoot  me  !  "  I  laughed  till  I  cried.  But  they  will  shake  down  soon, 
directly  they  learn  that  the  harder  one  works  in  the  trenches,  the  drier 
and  more  comfortable  one  can  keep  them  and  oneself. 

We  shall  be  in  the  trenches  on  Christmas  Day,  but  we  are  going  to 
do  things  as  proud  as  we  can  for  the  men  nevertheless  ;  and  the  whole 
Battalion  will  have  plum-puddings,  which  are  being  escorted  out  here  from 
England.  All  of  us  have  been  making  reserve-sacks  of  food  and  warm 
things,  which  officers  have  found  superfluous  owing  to  our  diminishing 
numbers,  and  parcels  of  stuff  arriving  for  wounded  or  sick  officers,  and 
we  are  going  to  issue  it  all  out  to  our  Coys,  on  the  25th. 

Please  give  every  sort  of  message  and  greetings  to  all  Breamore  friends ; 
I  have  not  even  time  to  write  to  Grandma,  as  I  had  hoped,  I  may  be  able 
to  to-morrow. 

Very  best  love  to  you  and  O.  and  all  at  H.B.,  and  best  wishes. 

Ever  your  loving 




My  Dearest  Mother, 

No  sooner  in  billets  and  trying  to  get  a  well  deserved  rest, 
than  I  had  to  take  my  company  out  at  short  notice  last  night  to  dig. 
Four  miles  back  to  the  dirty  trenches — dig  till  midnight,  and  then 
relieved  by  another  company,  and  four  miles  back  in  pouring  rain  and 
sleet.  Our  trenches  are  rapidly  becoming  young  rivers,  and  one  can  do 
practically  nothing  to  stop  the  water  rising.  I  am  hard  at  it  again  to-day, 
refitting  and  reorganizing.  I  have  one  amusing  thing  to  tell  you. 
Yesterday,  when  censoring  letters,  I  came  across  one  in  which  a 
man,  referring  to  our  attack,  said  "  I  thought  every  minute  was  my 

Owing  to  a  few  little  hitches  and  difficulties  with  the and 

we  got  a  lot  of  extra  work,  and  our  rest  in  billets  this  time  has  been  no 
rest  at  all.  We  return  to  the  trenches  to-morrow,  and  shall  be  in  them 
on  Christmas  Day.  Germans  or  no  Germans,  water  and  mud  or  no 
water  and  mud,  we  are  going  to  have  an  'ell  of  a  bust,  including  plum 
puddings  for  the  whole  Battalion.  I  have  got  a  select  little  party 
together,  who,  led  by  my  stentorian  voice,  are  going  to  take  up  a 
position  in  our  trenches  where  we  are  closest  to  the  enemy,  about  80 
yards,  and  from  10  p.m.  onwards  we  are  going  to  give  the  enemy  every 
conceivable  form  of  song  in  harmony,  from  Carols  to  Tipperary. 
Variation  is  always  acceptable,  even  to  the  Huns  !  My  fellows  are  most 
amused  with  the  idea,  and  will  make  a  rare  noise  when  we  get  at  it ! 
Our  object  will  be  to  drown  the  now  far  too  familiar  strains  of 
"  Deutschland  iiber  Alles  "  and  the  "  Wacht  am  Rhein  "  we  hear  from 
their  trenches  every  evening. 

The  morning  after  our  attack,  there  was  almost  a  tacit  understanding 
as  to  no  firing,  and  about  6.15  a.m.  I  saw  eight  or  nine  German  heads 
and  shoulders  appear,  and  then  three  of  them  crawled  out  a  few  feet  in 
front  of  their  parapet  and  began  dragging  in  some  of  our  fellows  who 
were  either  dead  or  unconscious  close  to  their  parapet.     I  do  not  know 


what  they  intended  to  do  with  them,  but  I  passed  down  the  order  that 
none  of  my  men  were  to  fire,  and  this  seems  to  have  been  done  all  down 
the  line.  I  helped  one  of  our  men  in  myself,  and  was  not  fired  at,  at  all. 
I  sincerely  hope  that  their  intentions  were  all  that  could  be  desired  with 
regard  to  our  wounded  whom  they  fetched  in. 

I  also  saw  some  of  them,  two  cases,  where  the  two  Germans  evidently 
were  not  quite  sure  about  showing  themselves,  and  pushed  their  rifles 
out  to  two  of  our  wounded  and  got  them  to  catch  hold,  and  pulled  them 
on  to  their  parapet,  and  so  into  their  trenches. 

Far  the  most  ghastly  part  of  this  business  is  that  the  wounded  have 
so  little  chance  of  being  brought  in,  and  if  heavy  fire  is  kept  up,  cannot 
even  be  sent  for.  There  were  many  conspicuous  acts  of  gallantry  that 
night,  in  getting  in  the  wounded  under  fire,  but  many  had  to  be  left 
out.  One  notices  that  sort  of  thing  so  much  more  when  the  two  lines 
of  trenches  are  very  close,  and  the  morning  light  reveals  not  only  the 
bag,  but  also  the  pick-up  !  to  put  it  plainly. 

We  shall  all  think  of  you  at  home  on  the  25th,  and  hope  you  will 
be  a  bit  drier  than  we  shall. 

Give  my  very  best  wishes  to  all.  I  have  written  a  hasty  note  to 
Charlie  at  Breamore. 

Very  best  love  and  wishes  to  you. 

Ever  your  loving 


P.S. — Trench-waders  have  arrived,  and  are  excellent,  please  convey 
thousand  thanks.  E.  H. 

P.P.S. — Have  sent  you  a  small  box  of  superfluous  things  to  keep, 
including  Cater's  2nd  oil-sheet  and  cap,  which  have  only  just  arrived. 
Also  a  German  diary. 



My  Dearest  Mother, 

Just  returned  to  billets  again,  after  the  most  extraordinary 
Christmas  in  the  trenches  you  could  possibly  imagine.  Words  fail  me 
completely,  in  trying  to  describe  it,  but  here  goes  ! 

On  the  23rd  we  took  over  the  trenches  in  the  ordinary  manner, 
relieving  the  Grenadiers,  and  during  the  24th  the  usual  firing  took  place, 
and  sniping  was  pretty  brisk.  We  stood  to  arms  as  usual  at  6.30  a.m. 
on  the  25th,  and  I  noticed  that  there  was  not  much  shooting  ;  this 
gradually  died  down,  and  by  8  a.m.  there  was  no  shooting  at  all,  except 
for  a  few  shots  on  our  left  (Border  Regt.).  At  8.30  a.m.  I  was  looking 
out,  and  saw  four  Germans  leave  their  trenches  and  come  towards  us  ; 
I  told  two  of  my  men  to  go  and  meet  them,  unarmed  (as  the  Germans 
were  unarmed),  and  to  see  that  they  did  not  pass  the  halfway  line.  We 
were  350-400  yards  apart  at  this  point.  My  fellows  were  not  very 
keen,  not  knowing  what  was  up,  so  I  went  out  alone,  and  met  Barry, 
one  of  our  ensigns,  also  coming  out  from  another  part  of  the  line.  By 
the  time  we  got  to  them,  they  were  f  of  the  way  over,  and  much 
too  near  our  barbed  wire,  so  I  moved  them  back.  They  were  three 
private  soldiers  and  a  stretcher-bearer,  and  their  spokesman  started  off 
by  saying  that  he  thought  it  only  right  to  come  over  and  wish  us  a 
happy  Christmas,  and  trusted  us  implicitly  to  keep  the  truce.  He  came 
from  Suffolk,  where  he  had  left  his  best  girl  and  a  3!  h.p.  motor-bike! 
He  told  me  that  he  could  not  get  a  letter  to  the  girl,  and  wanted  to  send 
one  through  me.  I  made  him  write  out  a  postcard  in  front  of  me, 
in  English,  and  I  sent  it  off  that  night.  I  told  him  that  she  probably 
would  not  be  a  bit  keen  to  see  him  again.  We  then  entered  on  a  long 
discussion  on  every  sort  of  thing.  I  was  dressed  in  an  old  stocking-cap 
and  a  man's  overcoat,  and  they  took  me  for  a  corporal,  a  thing  which 
I  did  not  discourage,  as  I  had  an  eye  to  going  as  near  their  lines  as 
possible  !  They  praised  our  aeroplanes  up  to  the  skies,  and  said  that 
they  hated  them  and  could  not  get  away  from  them.     They  would  not 


say  much  about  our  artillery,  but  I  gathered  that  it  does  good  damage, 
and  they  don't  care  for  it.  The  little  fellow  I  was  talking  to,  was 
an  undersized,  pasty-faced  student  type,  talked  four  languages  well,  and 
had  a  business  in  England,  so  I  mistrusted  him  at  once.  I  asked  them 
what  orders  they  had  from  their  officers  as  to  coming  over  to  us,  and 
they  said  none  ;  that  they  had  just  come  over  out  of  goodwill. 

They  protested  that  they  had  no  feeling  of  enmity  at  all  towards  us, 
but  that  everything  lay  with  their  authorities,  and  that  being  soldiers 
they  had  to  obey.  I  believe  that  they  were  speaking  the  truth  when  they 
said  this,  and  that  they  never  wished  to  fire  a  shot  again.  They  said 
that  unless  directly  ordered,  they  were  not  going  to  shoot  again  until 
we  did.  They  were  mostly  158th  Regiment  and  Jaegers,  and  were  the 
ones  we  attacked  on  the  night  of  the  18th.  Hence  the  feeling  of 
temporary  friendship,  I  suppose.  We  talked  about  the  ghastly  wounds 
made  by  rifle  bullets,  and  we  both  agreed  that  neither  of  us  used 
dum-dum  bullets,  and  that  the  wounds  are  solely  inflicted  by  the 
high-velocity  bullet  with  the  sharp  nose,  at  short  range.  We  both 
agreed  that  it  would  be  far  better  if  we  used  the  old  South  African 
round-nosed  bullet,  which  makes  a  clean  hole. 

They  howled  with  laughter  at  a  D.T.  of  the  10th  which  they  had  seen 
the  day  before,  and  told  me  that  we  are  being  absolutely  misguided  by 
our  papers,  that  France  is  done,  Russia  has  received  a  series  of  very  big 
blows,  and  will  climb  down  shortly,  and  that  the  only  thing  which  is 
keeping  the  war  going  at  all  is  England  !  They  firmly  believe  all  this, 
I  am  sure.  They  think  that  our  press  is  to  blame  in  working  up  feeling 
against  them  by  publishing  false  "  atrocity  reports."  I  told  them  of 
various  sweet  little  cases  which  I  have  seen  for  myself,  and  they  told  me 
of  English  prisoners  whom  they  have  seen  with  soft-nosed  bullets,  and 
lead  bullets  with  notches  cut  in  the  nose  ;  we  had  a  heated,  and  at  the 
same  time,  good-natured  argument,  and  ended  by  hinting  to  each  other 
that  the  other  was  lying  ! 

I  kept  it  up  for  half  an  hour,  and  then  escorted  them  back  as  far 
as  their  barbed  wire,  having  a  jolly  good  look  round  all  the  time,  and 


picking  up  various  little  bits  of  information  which  I  had  not  had  an 
opportunity  of  doing  under  fire  !  I  left  instructions  with  them  that 
if  any  of  them  came  out  later  they  must  not  come  over  the  half-way 
line,  and  appointed  a  ditch  as  the  meeting  place.  We  parted,  after  an 
exchange  of  Albany  cigarettes  and  German  cigars,  and  I  went  straight 
to  H.-qrs.  to  report. 

On  my  return  at  10  a.m.  I  was  surprised  to  hear  a  hell  of  a  din 
going  on,  and  not  a  single  man  left  in  my  trenches  ;  they  were  completely 
denuded  (against  my  orders),  and  nothing  lived  !  I  heard  strains  of 
"  Tipperary  "  floating  down  the  breeze,  swiftly  followed  by  a  tremendous 
burst  of  "  Deutschland  iiber  Alles,"  and  as  I  got  to  my  own  Coy.  H.-qrs. 
dug-out,  I  saw,  to  my  amazement,  not  only  a  crowd  of  about  150  British 
and  Germans  at  the  half-way  house  which  I  had  appointed  opposite  my 
lines,  but  six  or  seven  such  crowds,  all  the  way  down  our  lines,  extending 
towards  the  8th  Division  on  our  right.  I  bustled  out  and  asked  if  there 
were  any  German  officers  in  my  crowd,  and  the  noise  died  down  (as  this 
time  I  was  myself  in  my  own  cap  and  badges  of  rank). 

I  found  two,  but  had  to  talk  to  them  through  an  interpreter,  as  they 
could  neither  talk  English  nor  French.  They  were  podgy,  fat  bourgeois, 
looking  very  red  and  full  of  sausage  and  beer  and  wine,  and  were  not 
over  friendly.  I  explained  to  them  that  strict  orders  must  be  maintained 
as  to  meeting  half-way,  and  everyone  unarmed  ;  and  we  both  agreed  not 
to  fire  until  the  other  did,  thereby  creating  a  complete  deadlock  and 
armistice  (if  strictly  observed).  These  two  fat  swine  would  vouchsafe 
no  information,  and,  beyond  giving  me  a  very  nasty  cigar,  did  nothing, 
and  returned  to  their  trenches. 

Meanwhile  Scots  and  Huns  were  fraternizing  in  the  most  genuine 
possible  manner.  Every  sort  of  souvenir  was  exchanged,  addresses  given 
and  received,  photos  of  families  shown,  etc.  One  of  our  fellows  offered 
a  German  a  cigarette  :  the  German  said,  "  Virginian  ? "  Our  fellow 
said,  "  Aye,  straight-cut "  :  the  German  said,  "  No  thanks,  I  only 
smoke  Turkish"  !  (Sort  of  10/-  a  100  me  !)  It  gave  us  all  a  good 


A  German  N.C.O.  with  the  Iron  Cross, — gained,  he  told  me,  for 
conspicuous  skill  in  sniping, — started  his  fellows  off  on  some  marching 
tune.  When  they  had  done  I  set  the  note  for  "  The  Boys  of  Bonnie 
Scotland,  where  the  heather  and  the  bluebells  grow,"  and  so  we  went  on, 
singing  everything  from  "  Good  King  Wenceslaus  "  down  to  the  ordinary 
Tommies'  song,  and  ended  up  with  "  Auld  Lang  Syne,"  which  we  all, 
English,  Scots,  Irish,  Prussian,  Wurtembergers,  etc.,  joined  in.  It  was 
absolutely  astounding,  and  if  I  had  seen  it  on  a  cinematograph  film 
I  should  have  sworn  that  it  was  faked  ! 

I  talked  to  a  lot  more  Huns  and  found  many  very  young  fellows,  but 
a  good,  strong,  and  pretty  healthy  lot.  Probably  only  the  best  of  them 
had  been  allowed  to  leave  their  trenches  ;  they  included  the  Jaegers,  158th, 
37th  and  15th  regiments. 

From  foul  rain  and  wet,  the  weather  had  cleared  up  the  night  before, 
to  a  sharp  frost,  and  it  was  a  perfect  day,  everything  white,  and  the 
silence  seemed  extraordinary,  after  the  usual  din.  From  all  sides  birds 
seemed  to  arrive,  and  we  hardly  ever  see  a  bird  generally.  Later  in  the 
day  I  fed  about  50  sparrows  outside  my  dug-out,  which  shows  how  com- 
plete the  silence  and  quiet  was. 

I  must  say  that  I  was  very  much  impressed  with  the  whole  scene,  and 
also,  as  everyone  else,  astoundingly  relieved  by  the  quiet,  and  by  being  able 
to  walk  about  freely.  It  is  the  first  time,  day  or  night,  that  we  have  heard 
no  guns,  or  rifle-firing,  since  I  left  Havre  and  convalescence  ! 

Just  after  we  had  finished  "  Auld  Lang  Syne  "  an  old  hare  started  up, 
and  seeing  so  many  of  us  about  in  an  unwonted  spot,  did  not  know 
which  way  to  go.  I  gave  one  loud  "  View  Holloa,"  and  one  and  all, 
British  and  Germans,  rushed  about  giving  chase,  slipping  up  on  the  frozen 
plough,  falling  about,  and  after  a  hot  two  minutes  we  killed  in  the  open, 
a  German  and  one  of  our  fellows  falling  together  heavily  upon  the  com- 
pletely baffled  hare.  Shortly  afterwards  we  saw  four  more  hares,  and 
killed  one  again  ;  both  were  good  heavy  weight  and  had  evidently 
been  out  between  the  two  rows  of  trenches  for  the  last  two  months,  well- 
fed  on  the  cabbage  patches,  etc.,  many  of  which  are  untouched  on  the 


"  no-man's  land."  The  enemy  kept  one  and  we  kept  the  other.  It  was 
now  1 1.30  a.m.  and  at  this  moment  George  Paynter  arrived  on  the  scene, 
with  a  hearty  "  Well,  my  lads,  a  Merry  Christmas  to  you  !  This  is  d — d 
comic,  isn't  it  ?  "  They  were  much  amused  with  him,  especially  when  he 
said  it  was  d — d  cold  ;  their  spokesman  immediately  said,  "  Oh  you  feel 
the  cold,  do  you  ?  Of  course,  we  don't,  as  we  are  used  to  harder  winters 
in  Germany  than  you  are  in  England."  George  told  them  that  he 
thought  it  only  right  that  we  should  show  that  we  could  desist  from  hos- 
tilities on  a  day  which  was  so  important  in  both  countries  ;  and  he  then 
said,  "  Well,  my  boys,  I've  brought  you  over  something  to  celebrate  this 
funny  show  with,"  and  he  produced  from  his  pocket  a  large  bottle  of  rum 
(not  ration  rum,  but  the  proper  stuff).  One  large  shout  went  up,  and 
the  above-mentioned  nasty  little  spokesman  uncorked  it,  and  in  a  heavy, 
ceremonious  manner,  drank  our  healths,  in  the  name  of  his  "  camaraden  "  ; 
the  bottle  was  then  passed  on  and  polished  off  before  you  could  say  knife. 

We  then  retired  to  our  respective  trenches  for  dinners  and  plum- 
pudding,  one  of  which  had  been  issued  to  each  man  in  the  Battalion  that 
morning,  also  Christmas  cards  from  King  and  Queen,  Princess  Mary's 
card  and  present  of  pipe  and  tobacco,  and  a  card  from  Lady  Rawlinson, 
for  4th  Army  Corps.  We  all  had  a  grand  meal,  and  as  we  have  only  one 
officer  per  Coy.  now,  I  had  my  meal  in  my  dug-out  with  the  Coy.  cook 
and  my  servant  and  an  Artillery  Officer,  who  has  a  dug-out  quite  close 
to  mine,  as  an  artillery  observation  post. 

We  had  steak,  mashed  potatoes,  plum-pudding,  ginger  biscuits,  choco- 
late (hot),  whisky  and  water,  and  finished  up  by  drinking  your  health 
and  all  at  home  in  best  Russian  Kiimmel ! 

During  the  afternoon  the  same  extraordinary  scene  was  enacted  between 
the  lines,  and  one  of  the  enemy  told  me  that  he  was  longing  to  get  back 
to  London  :  I  assured  him  that  "  So  was  I."  He  said  that  he  was  sick 
of  the  war,  and  I  told  him  that  when  the  truce  was  ended,  any  of  his 
friends  would  be  welcome  in  our  trenches,  and  would  be  well-received, 
fed,  and  given  a  free  passage  to  the  Isle  of  Man  !  Another  coursing 
meeting  took  place,  with  no  result,  and  at  4.30  p.m.  we  agreed  to  keep 


in  our  respective  trenches,  and  told  them  that  the  truce  was  ended. 
They  persisted,  however,  in  saying  that  they  were  not  going  to  fire,  and 
as  George  had  told  us  not  to,  unless  they  did,  we  prepared  for  a  quiet  night, 
but  warned  all  sentries  to  be  doubly  on  the  alert. 

During  the  day  both  sides  had  taken  the  opportunity  of  bringing  up 
piles  of  wood,  straw,  etc.,  which  is  generally  only  brought  up  with  difficulty 
under  fire.  We  improved  our  dug-outs,  roofed  in  new  ones,  and  got  a 
lot  of  very  useful  work  done  towards  increasing  our  comfort.  Directly 
it  was  dark,  I  got  the  whole  of  my  Coy.  on  to  improving  and  remaking 
our  barbed-wire  entanglements,  all  along  my  front,  and  had  my  scouts 
out  in  front  of  the  working  parties,  to  prevent  any  surprise  ;  but  not  a 
shot  was  fired,  and  we  finished  off  a  real  good  obstacle  unmolested. 

On  my  left  was  the  bit  of  ground  over  which  we  attacked  on  the 
1 8  th,  and  here  the  lines  are  only  from  85  to   100  yards  apart. 

The  Border  Regiment  were  occupying  this  section  on  Christmas 
Day,  and  Giles  Loder,  our  Adjutant,  went  down  there  with  a  party 
that  morning  on  hearing  of  the  friendly  demonstrations  in  front  of 
my  Coy.,  to  see  if  he  could  come  to  an  agreement  about  our  dead, 
who  were  still  lying  out  between  the  trenches.  The  trenches  are  so 
close  at  this  point,  that  of  course  each  side  had  to  be  far  stricter. 
Well,  he  found  an  extremely  pleasant  and  superior  stamp  of  German 
officer,  who  arranged  to  bring  all  our  dead  to  the  half-way  line.  We 
took  them  over  there,  and  buried  29  exactly  half  way  between  the 
two  lines.  Giles  collected  all  personal  effects,  pay-books  and  identity 
discs,  but  was  stopped  by  the  Germans  when  he  told  some  men  to 
bring  in  the  rifles ;  all  rifles  lying  on  their  side  of  the  half-way 
line  they  kept  carefully !  They  found  poor  Hugh  Taylor  close  up 
against  the  enemy's  parapet  (as  most  of  our  fellows  were)  ;  he  had 
been  shot  through  the  chest.  They  took  him  back  to  Head-quarters 
and  buried  him  close  by  in  a  cemetery  which  we  had  made  there. 
The  officer,  who  could  only  talk  French,  told  Giles  that  he  had  done 
everything  he  could  for  Hanbury-Tracy,  but  that  he  had  died  two 
days  afterwards.     He  also  told  us  that  Dick  Nugent  was  killed. 


They  apparently  treated  our  prisoners  well,  and  did  all  they  could 
for  our  wounded.  This  officer  kept  on  pointing  to  our  dead  and 
saying,  "  Les  Braves,  c'est  bien  dommage." 

This  episode  was  the  sadder  side  of  Xmas  Day,  but  it  was  a 
great  thing  being  able  to  collect  them,  as  their  relations,  to  whom  of 
course  they  had  been  reported  missing,  will  be  put  out  of  suspense 
and  hoping  that  they  are  prisoners. 

When  George  heard  of  it  he  went  down  to  that  section  and 
talked  to  the  nice  officer  and  gave  him  a  scarf.  That  same  evening 
a  German  orderly  came  to  the  half-way  line,  and  brought  a  pair  of 
warm,  woolly  gloves  as  a  present  in  return  for  George. 

The  same  night  the  Borderers  and  we  were  engaged  in  putting 
up  big  trestle  obstacles,  with  barbed  wire  all  over  them,  and  connecting 
them,  and  at  this  same  point  (namely,  where  we  were  only  85  yards 
apart)  the  Germans  came  out  and  sat  on  their  parapet,  and  watched  us 
doing  it,  although  we  had  informed  them  that  the  truce  was  ended. 
(I  shall  have  a  further  comment  to  make  on  that  later  on.)  Well, 
all  was  quiet,  as  I  said,  that  night,  and  next  morning,  while  I  was 
having  breakfast,  one  of  my  N.C.O.s  came  and  reported  that  the 
enemy  were  again  coming  over  to  talk.  1  had  given  full  instructions, 
and  none  of  my  men  were  allowed  out  of  the  trenches  to  talk  to  the 
enemy.  I  had  also  told  the  N.C.O.  of  an  advanced  post  which  1  have 
up  a  ditch,  to  go  out  with  two  men,  unarmed',  if  any  of  the  enemy 
came  over,  to  see  that  they  did  not  cross  the  half-way  line,  and  to 
engage  them  in  pleasant  conversation.  So  I  went  out,  and  found  the 
same  lot  as  the  day  before  ;  they  told  me  again  that  they  had  no 
intention  of  firing,  and  wished  the  truce  to  continue.  I  had  instruc- 
tions not  to  fire  till  the  enemy  did  ;  I  told  them  ;  and  so  the  same 
comic  form  of  temporary  truce  continued  on  the  26th,  and  again 
at  4.30  p.m.  I  informed  them  that  the  truce  was  at  an  end.  We 
had  sent  them  over  some  plum- puddings,  and  they  thanked  us 
heartily  for  them  and  retired  again,  the  only  difference  being  that 
instead    of   all    my    men    being    out    in    the    "  no    man's   zone,"    one 


N.C.O.  and  two  men  only  were  allowed  out,  and  the  enemy  there- 
fore sent  fewer. 

Again  both  sides  had  been  improving  their  comfort  during  the 
day,  and  again  at  night  I  continued  on  my  barbed  wire  and  finished 
it  right  off".  We  retired  for  the  night  all  quiet,  and  were  rudely 
awakened  at  1 1  p.m.  A  H.-qr.  orderly  burst  into  my  dug-out, 
and  handed  me  a  message.  It  stated  that  a  deserter  had  come  into 
the  8th  Division  lines,  and  stated  that  the  whole  German  line  was 
going  to  attack  at  12.15  midnight,  and  that  we  were  to  stand  to  arms 
immediately,  and  that  reinforcements  were  being  hurried  up  from 
billets  in  rear.  I  thought,  at  the  time,  that  it  was  a  d — d  good  joke 
on  the  part  of  the  German  deserter  to  deprive  us  of  our  sleep,  and 
so  it  turned  out  to  be.  I  stood  my  Coy.  to  arms,  made  a  few  extra 
dispositions,  gave  out  all  instructions,  and  at  11.20  p.m.  George 
arrived.  On  these  occasions  Bn.  H.-qrs.  move  into  the  trenches,  and 
Brigade  H.-qrs.  move  up  to  what  was  Bn.  H.-qrs.,  so  as  to  be  on 
the  spot.  Some  of  the  6th  Gordons  were  moved  up  as  reserve  in  a 
communication  trench  to  my  rear,  and  we  waited  for  some  fun. 
Suddenly  our  guns  all  along  the  line  opened  a  heavy  fire,  and  all 
the  enemy  did  was  to  reply  with  9  shell  (heavy  howitzers),  not  one 
of  which  exploded,  just  on  my  left.  Never  a  rifle  shot  was  fired  by 
either  side  (except  right  away  down  in  the  8th  Division),  and  at 
2.30  p.m.  we  turned  in  half  the  men  to  sleep,  and  kept  half  awake 
on  sentry. 

Apparently  this  deserter  had  also  reported  that  strong  German  re- 
inforcements had  been  brought  up,  and  named  a  place  just  in  rear 
of  their  lines,  where,  he  said,  two  regiments  were  in  billets,  that  had 
just  been  brought  up.  Our  guns  were  informed,  and  plastered  the 
place  well  when  they  opened  fire  (as  I  mentioned).  The  long  and 
short  of  it  was  that  absolutely  nixt  happened,  and  after  a  sleepless 
night  I  turned  in  at  4.30  a.m.,  and  was  woken  again  at  6.30,  when 
we  always  stand  to  arms  before  daylight.  I  was  just  going  to  have 
another  sleep  at    8   a.m.   when    I   found    that   the   enemy  were   again 


coming  over  to  talk  to  us  (Dec.  27th).  I  watched  my  N.C.O.  and 
two  men  go  out  from  the  advanced  post  to  meet,  and  hearing  shouts 
of  laughter  from  the  little  party  when  they  met,  I  again  went  out 

They  asked  me  what  we  were  up  to  during  the  night,  and  told 
me  that  they  had  stood  to  arms  all  night  and  thought  we  were  going 
to  attack  them  when  they  heard  our  heavy  shelling  ;  also  that  our 
guns  had  done  a  lot  of  damage  and  knocked  out  a  lot  of  their  men 
in  billets.  I  told  them  a  deserter  of  theirs  had  come  over  to  us, 
and  that  they  had  only  him  to  thank  for  any  damage  done,  and 
that  we,  after  a  sleepless  night,  were  not  best  pleased  with  him 
either  !  They  assured  me  that  they  had  heard  nothing  of  an  attack, 
and  I  fully  believed  them,  as  it  is  inconceivable  that  they  would 
have  allowed  us  to  put  up  the  formidable  obstacles  (which  we  had 
on  the  two  previous  nights)  if  they  had  contemplated  an  offensive 

Anyhow,  if  it  had  ever  existed,  the  plan  had  miscarried,  as  no 
attack  was  developed  on  any  part  of  our  line,  and  here  were  these 
fellows  still  protesting  that  there  was  a  truce,  although  I  told  them 
that  it  had  ceased  the  evening  before.  So  I  kept  to  same  arrange- 
ment, namely,  that  my  N.C.O.  and  two  men  should  meet  them  half 
way,  and  strict  orders  were  given  that  no  other  man  was  to  leave  the 

I  admit  that  the  whole  thing  beat  me  absolutely,  and  I  shall 
endeavour  in  my  next  letter  to  tell  you  how  I  think  the  "land  lies." 
I  am  finishing  this  letter  off,  as  it  is  a  long  one,  and  I  want  to  get 
it  off,  but  shall  write  the  other  this  evening  as  a  continuation,  and 
you  may  get  both  by  same  post. 

Well,  again  no  shot  was  fired  all  day,  and  in  the  evening  we 
were  relieved  by  the  Grenadiers,  quite  openly  (not  crawling  about 
on  all  fours,  as  usual),  and  we  handed  on  our  instructions  to  the 
Grenadiers  in  case  the  enemy  still  wished  to  pay  visits ! 

I  enclose  German  Field-Postcard,  which   a   Sergeant  with   the  Iron 


Cross   gave    me.      Also   am    sending    King    and    Queen's    Christmas 
cards,  and  Lady  Rawlinson's,  which  I  want  kept. 

Let  me  know  if  you  receive  the  box  with  cap,  oil-sheet  and  German 
diary.  Many  thanks  for  your  letters  of  21st  and  23rd,  which  amused 
me  greatly  with  the  various  anecdotes.  Please  wish  Gramps  very  many 
happy  returns  of  to-day,  and  tell  him  that  I  have  instructed  you  to  hand 
this  letter  to  him,  as  Birthday  Wishes,  as  I  have  not  a  minute  to  write 
any  others.  Very  Best  Wishes  for  the  New  Year  to  you  and  O.,  and 
all  at  home. 

Ever  your  loving 


Continuation  of  first  letter  of  same  date. 

My  Dearest  Mother, 

Have  got  a  quiet  evening  and  will  now  continue  letter  which 
I  wrote  early  this  afternoon,  and  which  has  gone  to  post. 

So  pleased  that  Hobson  is  getting  well ;  don't  let  him  hurry, 
although  medical  authorities  will  not  let  him  over-stay  his  legitimate 
period  of  convalescence  ! 

Send  me  Grandma's  address,  as  I  have  not  got  it. 

How  right  the  Belgian  officer  was  !  It  made  me  laugh  long  and 

I  fully  agree  with  Mrs.  X.  One  heavy  Howitzer  shell,  on  the 
cross-roads  in  Beaconsfield,  would  do  a  world  of  good  ;  we  are  all  very 
sorry  for  the  unfortunate  women  and  children,  victims  of  the  Scar- 
borough incident,  but  we  are  all  delighted  to  hear  that  any  German  ships 
have  got  out,  as  the  more  they  get  out,  the  more  are  we  likely  to  sink, 
and  it  is  ridiculous  for  people  in  England  to  think  that  the  only  duty 
of  our  Navy  is  to  guard  our  shores  from  being  shelled.  Their  duty  is 
to  guard  us  from  invasion,  and  to  protect  commerce,  and  their  whole 


strategy  must  lie  in  letting  German  ships  out,  if  we  wish  to  mop  them 
up  ;  and  after  all,  sinking  them  is  the  only  way  that  we  can  assure  our- 
selves from  invasion  and  protect  commerce  adequately.  People  in 
England  seem  to  think  that  the  duty  of  the  Navy  is  to  sit  outside  our 
shores  and  see  that  no  one  pumps  a  shell  on  to  our  island.  That  is  an 
extremely  narrow  and  selfish  way  of  looking  at  it,  but  those  are  our 
chief  characteristics. 

It  is  quite  right,  however,  that  the  State  should  make  good  damage 
out  of  the  War  Fund.  Lloyd  George  always  did  talk  rot,  and  it  is  just 
like  him  to  have  held  us  up,  as  making  big  sacrifices  for  other  people. 
We  should  be  looking  d — d  silly  by  now,  if  we  had  remained  neutral. 
Tell  Green  from  me  that  he  will  find  my  Mauser  pistol  in  the  gun-case, 
and  will  do  well  to  put  himself,  as  an  advanced  post  (or  rather  elevated 
post),  on  the  roof,  as  a  necessary  precaution  against  hostile  aircraft. 
Your  20-bore  might  do  too  ! 

I  think  that  the  only  thing  that  we  have  to  fear  in  England  is  the 

Now  to  continue  former  letter. 

I  forgot  to  say  that  we  gave  the  Germans,  on  each  day,  all  the  latest 
English  newspapers,  but  higher  authorities  would  not  allow  us  to  give 
them  Belloc's  articles  in  Land  and  Water.  (I  wanted  to  give  them  the 
cuttings  with  his  statement  as  to  their  casualties.)  I  asked  several  of  them 
general  questions  about  the  war,  and  they  one  and  all  answered  that 
our  papers  were  grossly  misleading  us  ;  that  really,  if  only  we  knew, 
France  is  absolutely  done,  and  Russia  has  taken  a  series  of  very  big 
knocks,  and  will  climb  down,  and  that  we  English  are  the  only  ones 
who  are  really  keeping  the  war  going.  They  all  think  that  the  war 
will  be  over  in  three  weeks'  time,  except  one  well-educated  fellow  I 
talked  to,  who  said  that  he  thought  it  would  go  on  'for  a  long  time  ;  I 
told  him  to  improve  his  dug-out  well,  and  we  hoped  to  find  extreme 
comfort  when  we  take  their  trenches,  as  we  have  heard  such  a  lot  about 
their  skill  in  trench  digging  ! 

The  whole  business  of  the  past   three  days  has  been  extraordinary 


and  not  easy  to  explain.  Yesterday,  shooting  began  again,  down  in  the 
8th  Division,  but  although  we  explained  to  the  enemy  that  the  truce 
was  at  an  end,  never  a  shot  was  fired. 

Although  I  do  not  trust  them  a  yard,  I  am  convinced  that  all  they 
want  is  to  see  us  making  ourselves  thoroughly  comfortable  and  (as  you 
will  gather  from  what  1  said  about  them  watching  us  put  up  obstacles 
and  entanglements)  to  assure  themselves  that  we  are  not  going  to  attack  ; 
so  much  so,  that  I  honestly  believe  that  if  we  had  called  on  them  for 
fatigue-parties  that  night,  to  help  us  put  up  our  barbed  wire,  they  would 
have  come  over  and  done  so. 

They  are,  I  am  sure,  pretty  sick  of  fighting,  and  found  the  truce  a 
very  welcome  respite,  and  were  therefore  quite  ready  to  prolong  it ;  in 
fact  made  us  prolong  it  by  continually  coming  to  talk.  They  watched  us 
bring  up  masses  of  timber  for  dug-outs,  wire  for  entanglements,  shovels 
and  picks  and  rakes  (for  dragging  a  small  stream,  which  has  become 
choked  up,  and  is  flooding  us  in  places)  ;  we  had  parties  working  on 
drainage,  and  relieving  the  pressure  of  water  from  our  trenches,  in  fact 
every  sort  of  thing,  which,  with  sniping,  is  only  carried  out  at  great  risk 
and  inconvenience.  Also,  they  were  the  troops  whom  we  had  attacked, 
and  some  of  them  expressed  admiration  for  us,  etc.,  and  they  had  also 
suffered  a  good  deal  by  it,  and,  one  way  and  another,  they  were  quite 
ready  to  have  a  respite  and  to  improve  their  own  comforts  and  trenches 
like  us.  In  fact,  they  had  said  to  me  that  they  could  not  be  answerable 
for  the  conduct  of  any  troops  who  relieved  them,  but  that  at  anyrate 
they  themselves  would  not  start  hostilities  again  unless  we  did.  Now 
for  a  deeper  and  also  fairly  obvious  reason  : — 

They  must  know  quite  well  that  what  they  achieved  hitherto,  they 
have  achieved  with  tremendous  losses,  and  that  it  can't  go  on  for  ever  like 
that.  They  hold  pretty  well  all  Belgium  and  a  bit  of  France,  and  in  case 
of  peace,  have,  on  this  side,  got  a  nice  bit  to  barter  and  bargain  with. 
The  main  issue  lies  at  present  in  Poland,  and  there,  also,  I  take  it,  they 
have  reached  their  zenith,  and  have  lately  a  fair  measure  of  success. 
Their  object,  as  we  all  know,  is  to  deal  as  big  a  blow  as  possible  to  Russia, 


and  probably  to  try  and  get  her  to  make  a  separate  peace,  giving  her  a 
nice  slice  (probably  all  Poland). 

To  do  this  they  have  had  to  denude  the  Western  battle  line,  and  any 
attacks  they  have  made  on  this  line  lately  have  only  been  bluff,  in  order 
to  make  us  believe  that  they  are  still  trying  to  advance  here.  If  they  can 
deal  with  Russia,  then  well  and  good  ;  they  can  then  transfer  all  their 
troops  again  to  this  front  and  make  again  for  Calais  and  Paris.  I  am  sure 
that  they  are  trying  to  make  Russia  sick  of  the  war  and  to  get  her  to 
climb  down.  The  Kaiser  must  realize  that  he  cannot  win  by  prolonging 
matters,  and  that  he  can't  lose  the  numbers  he  has,  so  far,  many  times 
more.  This,  I  think,  explains  why  they  appear  not  to  mind  how  com- 
fortable we  make  ourselves  here,  so  long  as  what  we  do  tends  to  making 
them  believe  that  we  are  going  to  sit  quiet.  I  think  it  is  pretty  obvious. 
Also  this  would  explain  the  following  interesting  facts  : — 

For  the  past  two  months  their  artillery  has  got  slacker  and  slacker, 
and  opposite  us  they  either  have  none,  and  if  they  have,  they  have 
orders  not  to  fire,  and  to  save  their  ammunition.  This  may  be  due 
to  genuine  shortage,  or  to  the  fact  that  all  available  ammunition  is  sent 
to  the  big  issue  in  Poland.  Anyhow,  the  little  they  do  fire  is  nearly  all 
"  blind "  or  "  bad,"  as  it  hardly  ever  explodes.  They  have  not  fired 
shrapnel  at  us  for  three  weeks  or  more.  I  generally  take  the  reports  in 
our  papers,  about  shortages  in  Germany,  with  a  grain  of  salt,  but  I  must 
say  that  it  looks  as  though  they  were  having  some  difficulty  with  heavy 
ammunition.  They  have  plenty  of  small  arm  ammunition  still,  at  any 
rate  opposite  us. 

However,  it  is  all  very  curious. 

Christmas  Day  and  Boxing  Day  were  perfect, — sharp  frost,  about  15°, 
but  it  has  since  turned  to  rain,  and  to-day  has  poured  without  a  stop. 

For  the  first  time  in  his  life,  as  he  says,  George  is  praying  for  a  frost, 
as  we  all  are.  It  is  everything  for  the  men's  healths,  and  for  general  com- 
fort in  the  trenches.  One  can  always  keep  warm  when  dry,  however  sharp 
the  frost,  but  the  wet  goes  right  through  and  buttons  at  the  back,  and 
knocks  a  lot  of  the  men's  feet  up.     We  are  reduced  to  George  and  Giles 


(in  the  Trenches.  Christmas  Day.  JO'-fJ 


(CO.  and  Adj.),  Pip  Warner,  Barry,  Swinton  and  myself  as  Coy.  Com- 
manders. Barry  and  Swinton  are  only  ensigns,  and  the  latter  joined  us 
straight  from  Sandhurst  two  months  ago. 

We  are  all  very  sorry  indeed  to  hear  of  Ottley's  death  ;  he  was  also  a 
five  months'  Sandhurst  cadet,  and  joined  with  Swinton.  He  was  hard- 
working and  capable,  and  mad  keen,  and  led  the  platoon  of  my  company 
which  attacked  on  the  1 8th.  We  all  thought  that  he  would  get  over  his 
wound,  and  were  too  sorry  for  words  when  we  got  the  news  yesterday. 

Try  and  find  out  for  me  how  Freddy  Fitzwygram  and  Saumarez  are 
getting  on  ;  the  latter,  I  believe,  is  very  bad,  and  I  should  like  to  hear  of 
them.  Freddy  ought  to  be  getting  on  well.  We  hope  to  get  both 
officers  and  men  shortly,  and  need  them  badly  ;  I  am  at  present  far 
more  fortunate  in  my  N.C.O.s,  in  G.  Coy.,  and  have  one  very  good  one 
who  was  with  the  ist  Bn.  in  the  retreat  with  me,  but  one  officer  per  Coy. 
is  not  enough,  and  means  very  little  sleep  when  in  the  trenches  ! 

I  am  as  fat  as  a  pig  and  have  been  over-feeding  systematically  for  a 
week  nevertheless.     We  do  ourselves  proud  ! 

There  will  be  no  chance  of  leave  until  we  get  more  officers. 

I  am  sending  you  Princess  Mary's  Xmas  Box  which  I  want  kept.  I 
may  get  it  taken  to  London  and  posted  there  by  one  of  our  "  padres  "  who 
is  going  home  for  leave  on  Thursday  next.  I  hope  to  be  able  to  send 
you  shortly  some  small  photos  of  self,  Pip,  servants,  etc.,  in  billets,  and 
also,  if  they  come  out,  a  photo  of  us  and  the  Germans  together  on  Xmas 
Day.  Swinton  took  them  with  a  little  pocket-camera,  and  the  M  padre  "  is 
taking  the  films  home  to  get  them  developed.  If  the  latter  negative 
comes  out,  it  will  be  a  unique  incident  well  recorded. 

There  are  two  extraordinary  little  kids  here,  about  three  or  four 
years  old  respectively,  who  at  the  present  moment  are  vastly  interested  in 
my  signet-ring  ;  I  have  got  one  on  my  lap  and  the  other  is  pulling  at  the 
strings  of  my  stocking-puttees,  and  writing  is  not  easy  ;  they  smell  a  bit, 
but  are  little  toppers,  covered  with  smiles,  and  I  talk  French  "dog- 
language  "  to  them  and  seem  to  have  a  great  success : — "  viens,  petit  coco," 
brings  them  running  along,  and  they  nearly  burst  with  merriment  when 


I  give  them  ginger  biscuits.  They  are  brother  and  sister,  and  belong  to 
a  family  of  eight  ;  the  father  is  fighting,  and  the  mother  and  her  niece  run 
this  farm,  and  are  helped  by  the  eldest  sons  (14  and  15  yrs.  old).  They 
go  in  for  scientific  farming,  and  their  milk  and  butter  is  the  best  you  ever 
tasted.  I  got  six  eggs  from  them  this  morning  (at  6  sous  each) — a  rare 
luxury — and  scrambled  them  extremely  well  myself.  Milk,  butter  and 
eggs  are  not  often  to  be  had  all  together,  and  we  fairly  gloated  over  the 
result !  Swinton  and  I  (L.F.  Coy.  and  G.  Coy.,  respectively)  are  in  billets 
together  here  and  wolfed  the  lot ! 

Please  thank  Lady  Hall  ever  so  much  for  her  nice  letter,  and  say  that 
I  am  much  looking  forward  to  the  "  scouts'  diary."  Swinton  and  I  are 
getting  up  a  concert  to-morrow  night  in  the  biggest  barn,  for  our  two 
Companies  ;  as  we  have  to  spend  Hogmanay  in  the  trenches,  just  as  we 
had  to  be  in  them  on  Christmas  Day.  I  don't  know  what  the  devil  I  am 
going  to  oblige  with,  but  must  think  something  comic  out ! 

We  do  a  variety  of  things,  and  about  a  fortnight  ago,  when  in  billets 
on  a  Sunday,  and  about  two  miles  from  Head-quarters,  I  got  the  order 
to  parade  my  Coy.  and  conduct  a  Service,  there  being  no  chaplain  near. 
I  conducted  a  15  minutes'  service,  including  two  hymns,  which  I  had  to 
set  the  note  for.  It  is  no  child's  play  setting  a  note  ;  but  it  turned  out 
all  right,  and  the  key  suited  the  men's  raucous  voices.  I  never  thought 
that  I  should  conduct  a  Church  Service,  at  any  rate  not  at  my  present 
rank  of  Lieutenant. 

We  have  got  a  "  padre  "  in  this  district,  and  are  going  to  have  a 
Christmas  Service  to-morrow,  here,  in  this  barn. 

Very  best  love  to  all,  and  again  the  best  and  heartiest  of  New  Year 
wishes  to  all  at  Breamore. 

Ever  your  loving, 




My  Dearest  Mother, 

Back  again  in  billets,  but  this  time  in  Brigade  Reserve, 
instead  of  Division  Reserve,  which  means  only  a  short  way  from  the 
firing  line,  and  that  we  have  to  go  up  every  other  night  and  dig. 

I  have  got  your  letters  of  30th  and  the  1st,  and  all  parcels  have 
arrived  safely,  for  which  very  many  thanks.  The  second  pair  of 
puttees  arrived  all  right  after  all,  and  my  servant  had  put  them  at 
the  bottom  of  my  pack,  hence  my  overlooking  them.  I  have  had 
letters  from  Uncle  Baa  and  Uncle  Harry,  and  various  useful  little 
things  from  Aunt  Estelle,  including  chocolate,  foot  powder,  pencil, 
cigarette  lighter,  etc.,  all  "  tout  ce  qu'il  y  a  de  plus  pratique." 

One  officer  and  forty  men  are  all  that  they  have  sent  us,  as  the  draft 
intended  for  us,  including  Major  Romilly,  otherwise  Romeo,  were 
sent  up  to  the   1st  Battalion,  who  have  lately  had  further  losses. 

We  are  rapidly  becoming  skilled  drainage  experts,  and  nearly  all 
the  work  in  the  trenches  now  consists  of  draining,  pumping,  diverting 
channels,  etc.,  and  in  one  of  our  communication  trenches  which  is 
deeper  than  most,  n  ft.  6  in.,  the  water  has  now  attained  the 
astounding  and  almost  comic  depth  of  nine  feet  ! 

Many  communication  trenches  have  been  given  up,  and  we  have 
been  working  hard  draining  all  water  possible  in  one  big  one,  and 
passing  it  on  to  the  enemy.  They  are  doing  the  same,  and  the  result 
is  that,  apart  from  miles  of  barbed  wire,  there  are  some  very  formidable 
lakes  and  streams  in  between  the  trenches,  and  a  man  has  to  be  both 
an  expert  athlete  and  swimmer  combined  to  cross  from  one  line  to 
the  other  by  night. 

Three  days  ago  I  climbed  up  a  tree,  with  my  glasses,  and  found 
out  where  the  German  officer's  dug-out  is  just  opposite  me.  I  saw 
him  plainly,  and  recognized  him  as  the  fat,  heavy-jowled  brute  to 
whom  I  had  talked  on  the  25th.     I  have  had  a  look  every  morning 


since,  and  every  morning  he  has  had  four  men  scooping  the  water  out 
from  just  round  his  dug-out,  and,  judging  by  the  amount  of  pumping 
which  they  do,  I  should  say  that  they  are  worse  off  than  we  are. 

During  the  last  fortnight  I  have  had  great  luck,  as  my  company 
has  held  the  driest  section  of  the  Battalion's  line  ;  though  that  is  not 
saying  much,  as  everyone  has  to  work  like  fun  in  order  to  keep  the 
trenches  and  dug-outs  tenable  at  all. 

We  had  another  comic  episode  on  New  Year's  Eve.  Punctually 
at  1 1  p.m.  (German  war  time  is  an  hour  ahead  of  ours),  the  whole  of 
the  German  trenches  were  illuminated  at  intervals  of  15  or  20 
yards.  They  all  shouted,  and  then  began  singing  their  New  Year  and 
Patriotic  Songs.  We  watched  them  quietly,  and  they  lit  a  few  bonfires 
as  well.  Just  as  they  were  settling  down  for  the  night  again,  our 
own  midnight  hour  approached,  and  I  had  warned  my  company  as  to 
how  I  intended  to  receive  the  New  Year.  At  midnight  I  fired  a  star- 
shell,  which  was  the  signal,  and  the  whole  line  fired  a  volley  and  then 
another  star-shell  and  three  hearty  cheers,  yet  another  star-shell,  and 
the  whole  of  us,  led  by  myself  and  the  Platoon  Sergeant  nearest  to 
me,  broke  into  "  Auld  Lang  Syne."  We  sang  it  three  times,  and 
were  materially  assisted  by  the  enemy,  who  also  joined  in.  At  the 
end,  three  more  hearty  cheers  and  then  dead  silence.  It  was  extra- 
ordinary hearing  "  Auld  Lang  Syne  "  gradually  dying  away  right  down 
the  line  into  the  8th  Division.  I  fired  three  more  star-shells  in 
different  directions,  to  see  that  none  of  the  enemy  were  crawling  about 
near  our  wire,  and  finding  all  clear,  I  retired  to  my  leaking  bug-hutch. 
I  had  warned  all  sentries  as  usual,  and  had  succeeded  in  getting 
about  $  of  an  hour's  sleep,  when  the  Platoon  Sergeant  of  No.  12 
(my  Platoon  number  from  9-12)  burst  in  and  informed  me,  most 
laconically,  "  German  to  see  you,  Sir  !  " 

I  struck  a  light,  tumbled  out,  and  heard  a  voice  outside  saying, 
"  Offizier  ?  Hauptmann  ? "  and  found  a  little  fellow,  fairly  clean  and 
fairly  superior  to  the  average  German  private,  being  well  hustled  and 
pushed  between  two  fixed  bayonets.     The  minute  he  saw  me  he  came 


up,  saluted,  covered  in  smiles,  and  awfully  pleased  with  himself,  said, 
"  Nach  London,  Nach  London  ? "  I  replied,  "  No,  my  lad,  Nach 
the  Isle  of  Man,"  on  which  the  escort  burst  in  loud  guffaws  !  He 
could  not  talk  a  word  of  English,  except  "  Happy  New  Year,"  which 
he  kept  on  wishing  us.  He  was  a  genuine  deserter,  and  had  come 
in  absolutely  unarmed.  I  went  rapidly  through  his  pockets,  which 
were  bulging  on  every  side,  and  found  no  papers  or  anything  of  any 
value,  but  an  incredible  amount  of  every  kind  of  food  and  comestibles. 
He  had  come  in  fully  provided  for  the  journey,  and  was  annoyingly 
pleased  with  himself. 

I  ordered  him  to  be  marched  up  to  Battalion  Head-quarters  under 
escort,  and  telephoned  up  to  George  and  had  him  woken  to  tell  him 
that  I  was  sending  him  a  New  Year's  present.  I  enclose  receipt  for 
prisoner,  which  is  rather  interesting,  as  it  is  the  first  bit  of  work,  or 
writing,  which  19 15  brought  me,  and  was  considered  by  the  ultra- 
superstitious  private  soldier,  of  which  there  are  many,  as  of  good 

It  may  have  been  the  result  of  my  telling  them  on  the  25th  that 
any  of  them  who  wished  to  report  themselves  at  my  barbed  wire  after 
dark  would  be  fed  and  given  a  free  passage  to  England !  From 
what  I  could  make  out  about  a  lot  of  talk  from  him,  about  "  three 
camaraden,"  I  gathered  that  three  of  his  pals  were  going  to  come  in 
and  give  themselves  up  at  3  a.m.,  but  they  disappointed  us  and  did 
not  show  up.  He  told  me  that  he  had  a  wife  and  two  children,  and 
never  wished  to  see  a  rifle  again — at  least,  that  is  what  I  gathered 
from  a  few  words  which  I  could  understand. 

I  am  sending  you  a  photo  of  myself  and  four  of  the  raiding  party, 
which  was  taken  by  an  elderly  artist-rifleman,  who  accompanies  our 
Quarter-Master  and  takes  photos  for  a  Battalion  book  which  our 
Quarter-Master  is  mad  about.  Unfortunately  the  others  were  not 
available,  but  it  includes  the  Corporal  who  fired  the  rifle-bomb,  and  a 
grand,  great  fellow,  Dolley,  the  big  one  on  the  left,  who,  I  am  sorry 
to  say,  was  killed  about  a  fortnight  later.     Our  cleanliness  is  due  to 


this  photo  having  been  taken  when  we  were  in  billets.  I  wish  you 
could  see  us  when  we  emerge  from  the  trenches ! 

Please  write  and  thank  old  Tucker  for  her  letter,  and  explain  that 
I  have  hardly  any  time  at  all  for  letter  writing,  and  send  you  all  the 
news.     It  is  very  good  of  her  to  have  written.     I  enclose  address. 

Please  keep  me  a  Potsdam  Diary,  as  I  may  get  home  for  a  week 
soon.  Leave  has  begun  again,  and,  although  we  are  so  short,  one 
officer  at  a  time  is  going  to  be  allowed  away,  I  believe  ;  Giles  Loder 
probably  goes  this  week,  and  I  am  next  after  him.  With  luck,  I 
may  roll  up  about  the   12th,  but  will  let  you  know. 

Giggles,  Armine's  brother,  has  arrived,  and  each  company  has  two 
officers  except  mine.  Poor  old  self  has  to  carry  on  alone  still,  but 
I  am  lucky  in  some  of  my  N.C.O.s,  which  means  a  very  great  deal 
of  work  and  anxiety  taken  off  one's  shoulders.  By-the-by,  I  am 
not  a  captain  in  rank,  as  you  seem  to  think  in  one  of  your  letters, 
although  commanding  a  company.  It  is  absolutely  astounding,  but 
the  158th  German  regiment  have  not  yet  tired  a  shot  since  Christmas, 
and  I  believe  are  genuinely  sick  of  the  whole  thing.  Artillery  duels 
go  on  the  same  as  ever. 

So  glad  you  get  the  old  healthy  bump  every  morning,  though  the 
weather  is  awful  ;  it  hardly  stops  raining  at  all  here,  and  I  have  got 
to  take  my  company  up  to  the  trenches  to  dig  to-night  for  six  hours, 
d — n  and  blast  ! 

Very  best  love  to  you  and  O. 

Ever  your  loving 



O.C.  2JBattalion  Scots  Guards,     yth  Army  Corps. 

Herewith  a  German,  i^Sth  Regiment,  who  came  right  into  our  trenches  on 
my  right,  No.  12  Platoon.  The  Sentry  saw  him  close  to  our  barbed  wire,  and 
covered  him  and  challenged.     He  continued  to  walk  straight  in,  unarmed, 


and  jumped  into  our  trenches.     Sergeant  Macdonald  {Platoon  Sergt.,  No.  12 
Platoon)  brought  him  to  me  under  escort. 

E.  HULSE,   Lt. 
1. 10  a.m.  Com.  G.  Coy. 

I  have  taken  nothing  off  the  prisoner  ;   his  papers  and  effects  are  exactly 
as  when  he  entered  my  trenches.  E.  H. 

Received  from  Sir  E.  Hulse  one  prisoner  at  1.32  a.m. 

J  AS.   MONCUR,  Serg.-Major, 
2JBn.   Scots  Guards. 


28. 1. 15. 
My  Dearest  Mother, 

Strange  to  say  we  have  had  six  days  without  rain,  and  the  change 

has  been  very  welcome,  and  has  enabled  us  to  make  ourselves  a  good  deal 

more  comfortable  in  the  trenches.     We  have  even  reclaimed  several  bits 

which  had  been  abandoned,  and  have  got  to  work  with  the  pumps  again. 

Keen  frost  and  little  snow  at  night  is  all  we  have  had,  and  as  a  result  the 

men  are  cheery  beyond  words,  and  years  younger.     They  marched  out 

of  the  trenches  last  night  with  mouth  organs,  penny  whistles,  etc.,  playing 

"Highland  Laddie,"  as  if  they  had  only  just  landed  in  the  country. 

We  have  had  one  or  two  alarms  during  the  last  few  days,  but 
nothing  came  of  it.  The  Kaiser's  birthday  was  not  celebrated  by  the 
enemy  in  any  way  beyond  a  little  singing. 

I  and  my  C.S.M.  have  made  some  pretty  practice,  working  together 
with  rifle  and  glasses,  turn  and  turn  about.  We  have  accounted  for  three 
Germans  for  certain,  and  probably  two  others  during  the  last  four  days, 
but  it  is  no  easy  matter,  as  they  will  not  show  up  now,  and  three  hours 
hard  work  may  result  in  a  complete  blank  ! 


Our  army  has  had  2 1 2  cases  of  typhoid  since  the  beginning  of  the 
war  (very  small  number).  Of  these,  only  eleven  cases  had  been 
inoculated,  and  all  recovered.  Of  the  remaining  201,  twenty-two  died, 
and  some  are  in  a  serious  condition.     So  much  for  the  anti-inoculationists  ! 

A  heavy  bombardment  is  going  on,  on  our  right  to  the  North,  but 
we  have  not  yet  heard  what  it  is. 

The  poor  old  1st  Battalion  took  it  in  the  neck  again  the  other  day. 
The  enemy  attacked  five  times,  and  R.F.  and  L.F.  Coys.,  which  were  in 
the  trenches  at  the  time,  had  heavy  casualties  :  more,  I  cannot  say, 
except  that  we  are  all  aghast  and  making  large  goggle-peeps  at  the 
official  account,  which  appeared  in  the  D.T.  of  28th,  or  possibly  27th, 
under  heading  "  La  Bassee."  I  shall  never  accuse  the  German  papers 
of  talking  again.     I  may  be  able  to  write  more  later  on  about  it. 

The  younger  Monckton,  Gerald  Crutchley  and  Morrison-Bell  are 
reported  missing,  and  anyhow,  whether  killed  or  wounded,  are  in 
German  hands.     I  believe  they  are  prisoners,  and  may  be  unwounded. 

I  have  had  a  letter  from  Mrs.  de  Mello,  and  am  waiting  for  arrival 
of  parcels  of  smokes  before  writing  to  her. 

Your  three  pairs  of  socks  arrived  at  a  most  opportune  moment, 
when  we  were  short,  and  three  men  wanted  them  badly.  Please  thank 
Mrs.  Meston. 

There  is  very  little  news  at  present.  I  am  enclosing  two  little  items, 
one  of  which  you  have  seen.  Please  send  both  on  to  Uncle  Mi,  who 
will  appreciate  the  printed  one,  signed  Little  Tich  Beerbohm.  It  is  made 
out  in  regular  form,  like  the  information  which  is  circulated  from  time 
to  time.  It  really  is  a  good  joke,  and  I  believe  was  composed  by  one  of 
the  "  Artist  Rifles  "  themselves.     Ask  him  to  return  both  papers  to  you. 

Very  best  love  to  you  and  O. 

Ever  your  loving 


P.S. — The  Potsdam  Diary  is  having  a  tremendous  success. 


VERSES  BY  A   SUBALTERN  OF  "  C  "   COY.,  2/R.D.F. 

A    is  our  Army,  which  with  impunity, 

Bill  said  he'd  smash  at  his  first  opportunity. 

B    is  the  Base,  which  is  called  St.  Nazaire, 
No  longer  the  home  of  the  gallant  and  fair. 

C    is  the  Charge  of  the  Scottish  of  London — 

From  the  papers  you'd  argue  they  only  had  done  one. 

D   is  De  Wet,  who  thought  it  was  wiser 

To  break  his  allegiance  and  follow  the  Kaiser. 

E   is  the  End  of  this  horrible  war — 

It  will  probably  last  for  a  century  more. 

F   are  the  Flares  which  never  seem  lacking, 

Sent  up  by  the  Germans  to  see  who's  attacking. 

G    are  the  Germans,  a  race  much  maligned. 

A  more  peace-loving  people  you  hardly  can  find. 

H  are  the  Huns,  their  nearest  of  kin, 

A  pastoral  people  they  are  said  to  have  been. 

I    am  the  writer,  a  perfect  nonentity — 
That  is  the  reason  I  hide  my  identity. 

J    is  the  foy  on  the  faces  of  men, 

When  they're  told  they  must  go  down  for  rations  at  ten. 

K  is  the  Kaiser,  who's  said  to  be  balmy. — 

We  always  feel  safe  when  he's  leading  his  army. 

L    is  the  Lake  that  protects  us  from  fire, 

They  call  it  a  trench,  when  the  weather  is  drier. 

M  stands  for  Mud,  to  describe  which  foul  stuff 
Violent  blasphemy's  hardly  enough. 


N  is  the  Noise  which  we  generally  hear 

On  the  night  when  the  Germans  are  issued  with  beer. 

0    is  the  Order — obeyed  with  a  yawn — 

Of  "  Stand  to  your  arms — it's  an  hour  till  dawn  !  " 

P   is  the  Post,  which  generally  brings 
Parcels  of  perfectly  valueless  things. 

Q    is  the  Question  we  all  do  abhor, 

Concerning  the  probable  end  of  the  war. 

R    stands  for  Rum,  and  also  for  Russians, 

Our  two  greatest  allies  when  fighting  the  Prussians. 

S    as  you  know  always  stands  for  Supplies, 
Whose  excellent  qualities  no  one  denies. 

T   is  Tobacco,  that  beautiful  stuff, 

And  thanks  be  to  heaven  we've  now  got  enough. 

U  stands  for  Uhlan,  who's  gained  notoriety, 

Both  through  his  kindness  and  wonderful  piety. 

V  is  the  Voice  of  the  turtle,  which  bird 

Has  been  turned  into  stew,  so  it's  no  longer  heard. 

W  stands  for  Wine,  Women,  and  War, 

We'll  see  to  the  first  when  the  latter  is  o'er. 

X  is  a  perfectly  horrible  letter — 

I'll  leave  it  alone,  and  I  couldn't  do  better. 

Y  stands  for  Ypres,  which  the  Germans  desire, 
They  shelled  it  as  soon  as  they  had  to  retire. 

Z    stands  for  Zeppelins,  who  long  to  raid 
A  Circus,  a  Square  and  a  certain  Arcade. 



6/2/. 5. 

My  Dearest  Mother, 

Back  in  Brigade  Reserve  again,  and  expecting  to  be  called  out 
any  moment  to  dig. 

By-the-by,  Fortnum  and  Mason  parcel  has  arrived  safely,  and  Ludo's 
cake  ;  also  7  pr.  of  mittens  from  Grandma,  for  which  please  thank  her, 
and  tell  her  that  they  are  very  much  appreciated  by  the  men.  Please 
tell  Aunty  Gar  also,  that  Grand  Duke  Michael's  gloves  and  mittens 
arrived  a  long  time  ago  and  practically  all  the  men  got  them. 

I  have  just  had  a  letter  from  Mrs.  Leo  ;  after  infinite  pains  I  made 
out  the  gist  of  it,  and  she  and  Mr.  Leo  seem  to  have  been  delighted 
with  Breamore.  I  would  have  given  anything  to  hear  Mr.  Leo  and 
Charlie  talking  farm  stock.  I  know  Mr.  Leo  will  be  milking  cows 
before  long  !  Please  thank  Mrs.  Leo  very  much  for  the  letter,  and  tell 
her  that  I  will  write  when  a  little  spare  time  comes  my  way. 

The  Government  are  absolutely  raving  mad,  and  we  want  some 
strong  unscrupulous  fellow  with  an  iron  hand  to  run  things.  How 
much  better  things  would  be  run  if  we  could  put  the  whole  country 
under  martial  law,  Government  included. 

I  don't  believe  a  word  our  "  eminent  financiers  "  say  as  to  Germany 
not  being  able  to  carry  on  owing  to  shortage  of  money.  If  a  country 
has  its  back  against  the  wall,  and  is  under  the  sway  of  a  desperate 
military  caucus  (shortly,  I  hope,  carcase),  she  will  fight  on,  money  or  no 

A  very  interesting  thing  happened  the  day  before  yesterday  :  we  had 
a  trench-mortar  working  in  my  trenches,  and  it  made  a  very  nasty  mess 
of  the  enemy's  trenches  and  dug-outs  as  far  as  we  could  see.  It  made 
very  little  noise  going  off,  and  an  appalling  explosion  when  it  arrived 
chez  les  Bosches.  They  replied  with  shrapnel,  and  we  picked  some 
up  where  they  had  burst  weakly  and  were  more  than  surprised  to  find 
that  they  contained  marbles,  rather  larger  than  the  lead  shrapnel  bullet 


which  I  gave  you,  but  lighter  in  weight  by  far  than  an  ordinary  marble, 
and  made  of  some  very  light  stone.  It  could  not  possibly  hurt  anyone, 
unless  it  actually  struck  one  on  the  head,  and  even  then  I  doubt  whether 
it  could  penetrate. 

On  the  other  hand,  they  have  been  firing  more  than  usual,  and  most 
of  their  shells  explode  now.  They  have  been  showing  a  certain  amount 
of  activity,  but  have  wasted  a  good  deal  of  energy,  and  I  hope  will  go 
on  doing  so.  My  reference  to  our  astounding  newspaper  statements 
still  holds  good  ;  we  all  held  ourselves  in  readiness  to  go  to  the 
assistance  of  the  ist  Division,  but  they  did  good  work  with  their  second 
counter-attacks  ;  the  first  failed.  The  second  pushed  the  Germans  back, 
and  they  got  fair  hell  from  our  guns  and  the  French  combined,  but  the 
announcement  that  we  retook  all  trenches  was  not  quite  compatible 
with  facts ! 

I  am  afraid  M.  Bell  is  killed,  and  the  other  two  probably. 

The  other  night  the  enemy  tried  an  attack  on  us  ;  the  night  before 
we  had  "  feinted  "  an  attack  :  that  means  that  our  guns  opened  a  rapid 
fire  on  their  trenches,  followed  by  heavy  rifle-fire  ;  the  enemy,  we  hoped, 
would  hurry  up  reinforcements,  and  our  guns  then  opened  again  on 
their  rear  trenches  and  roads  in  rear,  hoping  to  catch  them.  We  believe 
that  good  work  was  done. 

Well,  on  the  night  after,  the  enemy  did  the  same  ;  we  were  ready 
for  them,  and  they  opened  heavy  fire  of  all  kinds  ;  we  thought  it  was  a 
u  feint "  too,  but  on  sending  up  star-shells,  we  saw  men  (probably 
officers)  apparently  urging  their  men  on,  and  a  good  deal  of  shouting,  etc. 
I  am  sure  that  they  meant  an  attack,  and  that  under  the  very  heavy  and 
prompt  fire  which  we  and  our  guns  developed,  they  wouldn't  take  it  on. 
An  attack  on  the  Middlesex  never  came  off",  and  they  show  signs  of  nerves 
frequently,  and  whenever  there  is  no  moon,  they  keep  on  sending  up  star- 
shells  to  see  if  we  are  crawling  forward  against  them. 

There  are  also  many  proofs  that  the  British  troops  are  the  only  ones 
which  are  employed,  time  after  time,  on  dirty  work.  The  French,  if  they 
have  a  rough  time,  are  immediately  taken  out  in  rear  to  rest,  and  the 


enemy  do  the  same.  I  really  believe  that  our  fellows  are  the  only  ones 
who  will  take  it  on  three  or  four  times. 

During  the  last  few  days  in  the  trenches  I  have  had  grand  sport  with 
a  telescopic  sight  on  my  rifle.  It  is  giving  the  enemy  a  bit  of  their  own, 
as  a  telescopic  sight  is  a  "  Zeiss,"  made  in  Germany.  We  know  that 
they  use  them  a  lot,  and  lately  I  have  been  worried  with  a  swine  who 
makes  infernally  good  practice  ;  he  hits  anything  one  puts  up,  and  missed 
my  C.S.M.  by  not  more  than  2  inches. 

We  put  up  several  marks  for  him  in  the  place  that  we  generally  snipe 
from,  and  which  he  had  driven  us  out  of,  and  watched  carefully,  and 
noticed  that  the  bullets  were  coming  at  an  angle  ;  this  meant  that  his 
position  was  right  away  to  the  flank,  and  that  he  was  not  opposite  us, 
where  we  were  looking  for  him.  We  found  a  convenient  little  spot  which 
faced  in  the  required  direction,  and  was  shielded  from  the  front,  and  at 
once  spotted  him  and  two  other  swine,  right  away  to  the  right  at  about 
550  yards  (the  trenches  are  not  more  than  about  350  yards  apart  at 
opposite  points). 

My  C.S.M.  and  I  had  stocking-caps  on  so  as  to  draw  less  attention, 
and  to  assimilate  easily  with  the  background  of  the  trench  behind  us.  We 
had  a  man  at  the  old  place,  about  20  yards  to  our  right,  and  we  knew 
that  the  German  had  spotted  us  there,  so  we  made  the  man  hold  up  a  big 
turnip,  with  a  stocking-cap  on  it,  just  above  the  loop-hole.  I  must 
explain  that  these  rifles  with  telescopic  sights  cannot  be  used  through 
loop-holes,  owing  to  the  size  of  the  fitting  and  rifle  together.  Well, 
sure  enough,  bullet  after  bullet  plastered  into  and  around  the  old  turnip, 
and  the  German  was  so  keen  that  he  leaned  well  on  to  the  parapet  to  make 
better  practice.  I  could  see  his  two  pals  with  their  caps  just  showing, 
but  he  showed  half  way  down  his  chest,  and  I  could  make  out  his 
telescopic  sight  clearly  on  his  rifle.  The  moment  had  arrived,  and, 
with  my  C.S.M.  watching  carefully  with  my  glasses,  I  pulled  !  With 
these  telescopic  sights  you  can  see  everything,  every  little  detail,  and  it  was 
an  extremely  pretty  moment  for  me — his  arms  went  up  and  his  head  went 
back,  his  cap  fell  off  and  he  disappeared  backwards,  heavily  into  the  trench. 


He  had  let  go  his  rifle,  and  one  of  his  pals  leant  over  quickly  to  get  it, 
and  I  put  another  shot  in,  and  just  missed  by  the  left.  I  was  really  pleased 
at  getting  the  brute,  as  he  had  given  us  endless  trouble.  They  have 
not  got  many  crack  shots,  and  what  there  are  very  rarely  show  themselves 
and  nearly  always  use  loop-holes,  and  it  is  a  mere  chance  if  one  gets  one 
through  a  loop-hole.  Also  the  fact  that  he  had  a  rifle  with  telescopic 
sight  shows  that  he  was  a  picked  shot.  I  saw  his  two  pals  appear  at  loop- 
holes just  after,  and  they  fairly  plastered  our  old  position  (where  I  had  had 
the  turnip  dressed  in  the  Balaclava  helmet),  and  I  made  them  both  move 
up  and  down  to  various  loop-holes,  until  they  gave  it  up.  The  second 
I  saw  a  rifle  being  shoved  through  a  loop-hole  I  let  drive,  and  could  see 
the  earth  fly  up  just  below,  or  just  at  the  side. 

It  was  a  pleasant  reward  for  three  hours'  hard  work,  and  they  daren't 
show  their  little  fingers  by  day,  now. 

To  put  it  shortly,  "  'e  come  down  proper,  'e  did."  It  is  a  novel  and 
a  pleasant  sensation  to  see  the  fellow  you  hit  fall.  Generally,  firing  with 
the  naked  eye  even  at  250  yards,  if  a  head  or  head  and  shoulders  is  your 
only  mark,  you  don't  see  much  of  what  happens.  Unfortunately,  we 
have  only  this  one  telescopic  sight  in  the  Battalion,  and  next  time  in  the 
trenches  another  Company  has  got  to  have  it. 

I  broke  into  song  at  a  concert  we  had  when  last  in  billets,  in  a  rash 
moment,  and  shall  probably  always  have  to  "  oblige  "  in  future.  I  have 
made  up  a  little  song  since  (in  the  trenches),  a  skit  about  our  Hd.-qr. 
Staff",  including  most  of  them,  from  George  downwards,  and,  pending  his 
consent,  shall  fire  it  off  at  the  next  concert. 

By-the-by,  please  send  me  at  once  the  Anthology  of  Humorous  Verse, 
by  Theodore  A.  Cook  (Price  3s.  6d.  net),  you  can  get  it  at  Bumpus',  or 
anywhere.  I  have  discovered  untold  talent  in  my  Coy.,  including  a  really 
good  tenor,  who  is  the  brother  of  a  Scotch  tenor  who  had  something  to 
do  with  Bunty  pulls  the  Strings.  He  sang  two  Scotch  folk  songs  quite 
remarkably  well. 

I  am  afraid  the  Crefeld  lot  are  having  a  thin  time  ;  they  are  unspeakable 
brutes,  and  why  the our  rotten  Govt,  can't  make  reprisals  instead 


of  talking  humanity  and  rot,  I  cannot  understand.  The  prisoners 
in  England  ought  to  be  made  to  do  useful  work  for  us  (not  for 
themselves)  night  and  day  !  They  are  swine  and  will  always  be 
swine  ! 

Very  best  love  to  you  and  O. 

Ever  your  loving 



17.2. 15. 
My  Dearest  Mother, 

We  have  had  a  very  busy  time  indeed  in  Divisional  Reserve, 
and  I  have  not  had  a  minute  to  write  ; — hence  my  terse  little  Field  Post 
Card  of  yesterday.  We  have  had  to  make  up  books,  lists  and  all 
company  matters,  and  get  everything  ship-shape,  as  we  are  expecting  a 
draft,  but  I  shall  not  believe  it  until  I  see  the  men  actually  before  me. 
We  have  heard  of  so  many  drafts,  and  none  have  arrived  yet.  In 
addition  to  that,  we  have  been  pow-wowing  night  and  day,  and  sub- 
mitting schemes  for  the  best  method  of  attack,  both  by  night  and  by 
day,  and  yesterday  had  to  carry  out  an  attack  on  an  old  line  of  trenches 
f  mile  behind  the  firing-line.  If  only  a  German  aeroplane  could  have 
seen  us,  I  wonder  what  it  would  have  reported !  Two  different 
methods  of  attack  were  practised.  The  Right  Half-Battalion  under  Pip, 
and  the  Left  Half  under  me.  He  attacked  in  open  order,  and  I 
attacked  in  columns  of  Platoons.  The  whole  thing  was  made  as  genuine 
as  possible,  in  order  to  practise  all  ranks  in  the  many  and  varied  tasks 
allotted  to  them  in  the  attack. 

The  Brigadier  and  staff  watched,  and  I  had  to  take  it  on  first ; 
we  had  an  easy  bit  of  barbed  wire  to  get  through,  and  everything 
went  well  until  the  inevitable  happened.  (This  is  not  to  be  published.) 
To  make  matters  thoroughly  realistic,  the  Brigade  bomb-throwers  with 
live  bombs,  portioned  up,  so  many  to  each  of  our  columns,  took  part. 


They  were  6th  Gordons,  and  of  course  just  as  we  got  to  the  barbed 
wire  and  were  breaking  through,  when  it  was  their  business  to  bomb 
the  enemies  trenches,  one  of  the  damnable  machines  went  off  before 
it  was  thrown  and  blew  one  man's  thigh  half  away  and  broke  his  leg 
and  wounded  another.  Of  course  we  stopped  the  business  and  had  all 
bombs  removed,  and  carried  out  the  attack  again  without  the  infernal 

I  have  not  yet  heard  what  lessons  the  Brigadier  learnt  from  our 
efforts,  but  I  have  formed  several  very  well  defined  views  on  bombs 
and  shortage  of  wire  cutters. 

Apart  from  these  little  items,  I  spent  the  day  before  yesterday  from 
10  a.m.  till  5.30  p.m.  without  a  break  at  all,  sitting  on  a  Court  Martial, 
or  rather  on  a  series  of  them. 

Vivian  B.-J.  (Rifle  Brigade)  and  Ned  Coke  came  over  to  see  me 
yesterday,  and  we  had  a  long  talk  on  the  affairs  of  the  world  in  general, 
without  any  of  us  knowing  anything  ! 

You  will  remember  that  before  Christmas  we  changed  our  trenches, 
in  order  to  take  over  and  improve  trenches  on  our  right.  Well,  we 
have  improved  them  50%  and  my  men  have  worked  like  fun  at  the  wire, 
etc.,  and  have  done  wonders,  and  also,  of  course,  have  made  themselves 
pretty  comfortable.     To-day  we  go  back  to  the  trenches,  and  have  just 

heard  that  we  have  all  got  to  move  to  the  left,  and  take  over  the 

trenches,  which  are  in  a  filthy  condition  from  neglect ;  no  work  can  be 
got  out  of  them,  and  the  higher  authorities  consider  the  line  unsafe  in 
consequence  ;  so  the  result  is  that  as  soon  as  we  have  got  comfortable 
by  sheer  hard  work,  we  have  got  to  go  and  begin  all  over  again,  and  do 
a  great  deal  of  strengthening  and  wiring  to  the  front,  all  of  which  is 
ticklish  work.  It  is  hard  on  the  men,  but  of  course  a  great  compliment. 
However,  the  men  don't  see  that  at  all. 

Filthy  weather,  rain  and  high  wind.  We  have  had  two  false  alarms 
lately,  but  they  are  always  good  practice  for  turning  the  men  out. 
(Please  ask  F.  L.  Smith  to  send  me  two  boxes  of  a  hundred  cigarettes, 
over  and  above  his  ordinary  consignments  at  once.) 


I  love  your  story  of  Queen  Mary  and  "  Little  Mary,"  and  also  of 
the  dear  old  Belgians.  Telescopic  sights,  being  made  in  Germany,  are 
almost  impossible  to  get,  and  cost  from  £12  to  £15,  and  want  specially 
sighting  on  rifles,  etc.  Do  not  trouble  about  that ;  we  must  trust  to 
what  we  get  sent  out.  Not  another  minute  to  spare.  Hope  to  have 
time  to  write  from  the  trenches,  but  doubtful. 

Very  best  love  to  you  and  O. 

Ever  your  loving 


P.S. — Many  thanks  for  Humorous  Verse. 


My  Dearest  Mother, 

Many  thanks  for  your  wire  ;  needless  to  say  I  was  extremely- 
pleased,  although  "  rushed "  hardly  expresses  the  filthy,  slow  crawling 
which  we  did.     You  are  quite  right — the  "  machine  gun  did  it !  " 

George  Abercromby  paid  us  a  visit  the  other  day,  and  I  hardly 
recognized  him  ;  quite  a  fat  face  and  a  "  glengarry  "  cocked  on  the  side 
of  his  face  or,  rather,  head. 

Photo  can  appear  in  Journal ;  I  hope  Lady  Leucha  succeeds  in 
removing  me  from  her  film,  but  as  I  take  a  prominent  place  in  it  she  will 
probably  have  some  difficulty  ! 

It  is  the  last  thing  and  "the  limit"  that  it  should  be  possible  for 
Mrs.  X.  to  roll  up  at  4th  Army  Corps  Hd.-qrs.  Much  better  if  some 
of  the  rotten  Govt,  had  done  so,  as  we  might  have  got  them  into  the 
bullet  zone. 

I  saw  General  Rawly  the  other  day  ;  he  shook  me  heavily  by  the 
hand  and  we  had  a  few  words  together. 

We  have  just  spent  an  uneventful  and  rather  wet  four  days,  but  by 
the  direct  intervention  of  Providence  and  a  few  forcibly  put  remarks 


by  myself,  I  did  not  have  to  take  over  the  new  bit  of  the  line  from 

the and .     Pip  had  to  do  it,  and  has  had  a  hard  four  days  and 

nights,  including  two  men  killed.  There  was  absolutely  no  cover  at  all, 
and  the  above-mentioned  Regiments  must  have  simply  sat  still  for  two 
months  and  watched  their  parapets  and  defences  fall  in  without  doing 
one  stitch  of  work.  Instead  of  moving  the  whole  Battalion  down  from 
right  to  left,  which  would  have  placed  me  in  the  new  and  neglected 
bit  (as  I  was  on  the  left  of  the  line),  they  quite  rightly  took  Pip's  Coy. 
out  from  the  right  and  bumped  it  on  the  left,  thereby  necessitating  the 
movement  of  one  Coy.  only,  instead  of  four.  It  was  hard  on  Pip,  but 
I  agreed  to  do  all  the  a  wiring "  I  could  in  front  of  him,  and  kept 
my  part  of  the  bargain, — during  the  last  four  nights  I  have  put  up 
entanglements,  including  43  coils  of  wire  (£  mile  long  each)  and  870 
posts  and  pegs  !  One  night  the  enemy  sent  up  a  star-shell,  which 
dropped  plum  in  the  middle  of  my  wiring  party.  The  minute  a  star- 
shell  is  sent  up  by  either  side,  if  one  is  out  in  front  of  one's  trenches, 
one  has  to  lie  absolutely  flat  and  still.  We  did  so,  and  although  the  flare 
dropped  right  in  amongst  us,  they  never  spotted  us. 

The  Brigadier  was  very  nervous  about  the  left  of  my  Coy.,  which 
rests  on  a  road,  and  especially  about  the  gap  which  existed  between 

me  and  the and ,  just  on  the  left  of  that.     Seeing  that  the 

latter  could  be  got  to  do  nothing  at  all,  he  turned  me  on  to  wire  not 
only  my  left  but  also  in  front  of  the  gap  and  in  front  of  four  forts 

of  the  .     It  is  always  a  ticklish  job  wiring  in  front,  with  occasional 

sniping,  but  I  have  got  some  good  N.C.O.s  who  are  absolutely  expert  on 
the  job,  and  don't  panic  when  shots  come  near  in  the  middle  of  the 
night,  as  many  do  ! 

We  have  been  at  it  for  eight  days  now  (our  last  two  spells  in 
the  trenches)  and  completed  it  just  before  we  came  out ;  we  have 
worked  from  7  p.m.  to  1  and  2  a.m.  every  night,  and  have  perpetrated 
such  an  entanglement  as  you  never  saw  ;  it  far  exceeded  General  Pa's 
expectations,  and  he  was  awfully  pleased,  and  talked  for  ten  minutes  on 
end  about  it.     He  asked   me  to  compliment  the  wiring  party,  which 


I  did,  and  also  incidentally  gave  them  all  a  tot  of  neat  whisky  each  on  the 
quiet.  It  is  highly  skilled  labour  and  a  test  on  the  nerves,  so  I  thought 
a  little  whisky  (a  thing  which  they  never  get  at  all)  would  not  come  amiss  ! 

All  ranks  of  my  Coy.  are  working  awfully  well,  and  by  dint  of 
constant  organizing  and  drill  when  in  billets,  and  heavy  discipline,  the 
whole  machine  is  working  really  well  now.  It  is  a  very  different  thing 
from  two  months  ago,  and  makes  it  far  easier,  of  course,  for  me. 

We  have  just  had  a  draft  of  2  officers  and  200  men,  so  that  we  now 
have  11  officers  (1  on  leave),  and  over  600  for  the  trenches.  We  are 
hard  at  it  this  afternoon  settling  the  draft  into  their  places  ;  I  come  in  for 
34  of  them  only,  but  I  get  one  of  the  officers,  Jarvis,  an  ensign,  and 
shall  have  a  good  deal  of  the  smaller  and  more  irksome  items  of  work 
taken  off  me,  such  as  taking  parties  of  my  Coy.  up  to  the  trenches  from 
Brigade  Reserve  to  dig  at  night,  etc.  It  will  make  a  big  difference  in  the 
trenches,  too,  as  we  shall  take  it  in  turns  to  visit  sentries  by  night,  etc., 
all  of  which  has  been  pretty  hard,  with  no  one  but  myself,  hitherto. 
I  shall  introduce  myself  to  them  on  parade  to-morrow  in  a  few  "  well 
chosens  "  and,  I  hope,  to  the  point !  including  a  few  gentle  hints  on  that 
highly  scientific  and  necessary  part  of  soldiering,  the  Art  of  Sanitation. 
What  I  don't  know  about  latrine-digging  and  "  chloride  of  lime  "  is  not 
worth  the  shovel  which  is  so  necessary  an  implement ! 

However,  enough  of  this,  or  the  picture  may  become  too  vivid. 

Germany  is  really  getting  a  bit  worried  now  about  the  food  question, 
and  I  hope  we  really  do  put  the  screw  on  to  the  best  of  our  ability.  We 
cannot  hear  anything  definite  or  reliable  about  the  Russian  reverse,  or 
about  a  rumoured  counter-success  by  the  Russians. 

A  good  deal  of  mist  and  occasional  frost  now,  and  very  damp,  but 
with  the  water  in  the  trenches  well  in  hand,  we  are  pretty  comfortable. 
More  work  ; — am  just  off  to  dig  this  filthy  country  up. 

With  best  love  to  you  and  O.,  and  all. 

Ever  your  loving 



My  Dearest  Mother, 

Many  thanks  congrats.  Am  now  covered  with  "  stars,"  and 
feel  quite  heavy  about  the  shoulders  from  sheer  weight  of  metal.  I  have 
been  unable  to  write  during  last  two  days,  as  we  have  moved.  I  am  writ- 
ing a  lengthy  letter  this  evening,  and  it  may  catch  the  same  post  as  this, 
but  am  writing  this  in  case  it  misses.  I  enclose  Board  of  Trade  letter  ; 
I  can't  have  signed  receipt  myself,  but  I  got  an  intimation  from  Cox,  to  say 
that  it  had  been  paid  into  my  account,  and  I  have  seen  it  in  my  Pass  book. 
Very  best  love. 

Ever  your  loving 


P.S. — The  bald  pate  becomes  the  rank  of  Captain  better  than  that  of 
Lieut,  anyhow  ! 

P.P.S. — Please  tell  Kathleen  Crichton  I  have  not  yet  received  an 
answer  from  the  ist  Battalion  as  to  the  man  she  was  enquiring  after,  and 
that  I  will  write. 

E.  H. 


My  Dearest  Mother, 

I  think  this  will  probably  catch  the  same  post  as  my  other  (short) 
letter  dated  to-day.  The  temporary  rank  has  to  appear  as  such,  but  is  as 
good  as  the  full  rank,  and  it  is  only  a  matter  of  red  tape  and  two  more 
notices  in  the  Gazette  to  get  the  full  promotion.  They  may  antedate  me 
next  time,  and  then  after  that  confirm  me  in  my  rank,  though  that  will  prob- 
ably not  appear  for  a  good  long  time.  George,  who  has  always  dreaded 
being  promoted  "Major,"  has  now  got  to  it;  he  says  it  makes  him  feel  a 


hundred,  and  that  it's  a  dirty  old  man's  rank  !  Of  course,  he  ought  to 
have  been  promoted  temp.  Lt.-Colonel,  drawing  Colonel's  pay,  as  he  has 
absolutely  run  the  Battalion  ever  since  Ypres,  and  pulled  it  together  through 
very  dirty  and  trying  times.  I  have  had  the  Coy.  for  three  months  now, 
and  hope  to  be  antedated  some  time,  but  one  can  never  tell,  as  the  way  the 
Army  List,  Gazettes  and  promotions  are  being  worked  is  beyond  the  ken 
of  even  the  most  astute  and  learned  red-tapist  that  ever  trod.  Prisoners, 
interned  officers,  ensigns  who  have  not  been  out,  have  done  no  duty  at 
all  at  home,  and  every  sort  of  person  has  been  promoted ;  however,  we  do 
feel  out  here  that  we  have  deserved  ours  and  worked  a  bit  for  it ! 

Before  I  forget,  please  tell  Uncle  Mi  that  George  and  I  think  very 
little  of  him  for  not  answering  our  respective  letters  of  about  a  month  ago. 
(As  a  matter  of  fact,  George's  way  of  putting  it  was  considerably  stronger 
and  more  laconic.)  Now  for  news,  confidential ;  we  have  been  relieved 
by  the  Canadians. 

We  have  moved  to  billets  a  bit  further  South  and  about  ten  miles 
behind  the  firing-line  ;  great  comfort,  nice  people,  an  excellent  family  in 
this  farm  who  have  eight  kids,  all  of  whom  parade  up  and  down,  all  day 
long,  with  pitch-forks,  saws,  hoes  and  axes,  shouting  "Allemands  !  Pooff !  " 
and  accompany  the  above  remarks  with  a  fierce  lunge  ;  how  they  have  not 
had  a  sad  accident  with  the  improvised  weapons,  I  do  not  know,  as  the 
two  axes  are  considerably  larger  than  the  young  French  patriots  who  carry 
them ! 

We  cannot  say  for  certain  what  they  are  going  to  do  with  us,  but  I 
should  think  probably  a  few  days'  rest,  perhaps  a  long  one,  even,  and  keep 
us  in  readiness  to  move  to  any  threatened  point.  On  the  other  hand,  we 
may  be  going  to  take  over  trenches  again,  further  down,  and  at  a  more 
important  point ;  our  last  place  was  neither  strategical  nor  tactical,  and 
the  Huns  would  never  make  a  big  offensive  there. 

After  I  had  been  relieved  and  had  got  my  Coy.  together  (now  close 
on  200  men)  I  was  held  up  for  ten  minutes  by  such  a  crowd  as  you  never 
saw  ;  they  came  down  the  road,  officers  and  men  cursing  alike,  some  in 
threes,  some  in  pairs,  and  others  in  single  file  ;  one  officer  as  he  passed  me 


and  I  cautioned  him  to  tell  his  men  to  keep  their  mouths  shut,  if  he  didn't 
want  to  get  shelled,  said  "  Say,  this  is  the  most  Gawd  d — d  locality  I 
ever  did  see!"  Another  bright  man  as  he  passed  said  "Glory  be  to 
Gawd,  this  is  no  d — d  picnic."  In  fact,  I  have  seen  many  school-treats 
infinitely  better  managed  and  disciplined.  However,  be  it  said  on  the 
other  side,  that  the  Canadian  Highlanders  are  a  very  fine  lot  and  well  set 
up.  But  you  cannot  get  away  from  the  fact  that  discipline  cannot  be 
grafted  on  to  men  who  have  been  brought  up  to  regard  no  one  but 
themselves  as  master,  and  that  every  man  is  as  good  as  another.  They 
will  fight  like  demons,  no  doubt,  hand  to  hand,  and  in  the  excitement  of 
a  charge  ;  but  given  the  filthy  conditions  without  any  of  the  glamour,  or 
excitement,  it  is  very  questionable  whether  the  machine,  without  iron  dis- 
cipline, will  not  go  to  pieces.  But  they  are  keen,  excellent  at  scouting, 
nothing  they  don't  know  about  taking  care  of  themselves,  and  practical 
common  sense,  and  have  a  large  percentage,  I  believe,  of  country-bred 
men,  which  means  a  great  deal  out  here.  They  can  shoot,  and  one  and 
all  mean  business.  May  the  Good  Lord  so  order  the  councils  of  our 
higher  commanders  that  the  Canadians  get  on  to  German  soil,  well  in  the 
front  line,  and  I  think  we  shall  be  able  to  show  the  Huns  what  Louvain, 
Rheims  and  Malines  really  mean  ! 

We  have  had  yet  another  draft  (2  officers  and  50  men)  which  means 
an  addition  during  the  last  ten  days  of  4  officers,  and  370  men.  We 
have  now  got  quite  a  smart  Battalion,  and  14  officers,  counting  Doctor 
and  Quartermaster.  Jarvis,  the  ensign  whom  I  have  got,  is  in  Joe 
Whitburn's  business,  age  24,  and  was  at  Warren  Hill  with  me.  He  is 
a  very  good  fellow,  I  think,  and  promises  well  ;  I  am  getting  a  little 
discipline  into  him,  which  is  all  he  wants,  as  he  is  full  of  common-sense — 
a  very  necessary  item  out  here.  They  have  sent  us  one  very  moderate 
young  fellow,  who  is  quite  incapable,  but  luckily  Pip  has  got  the  arduous 
task  of  training  him,  and  not  I  ! 

I  believe  the  two  new  arrivals  are  both  good,  and  I  hope  to  get  one 
of  them.  They  only  arrived  to-day.  We  are  hard  at  work  cleaning  up, 
drilling  and  lecturing,  etc.     We  had  a  concert  before  we  left  the  old 


place,  and  found  some  perfectly  astounding  talent  in  the  new  drafts. 
R.F.  Coy.  has  most  of  it,  but  I  have  the  best  of  the  whole  lot,  one 
Jamieson,  a  private,  who  has  joined  for  the  war.  He  is  the  nearest 
thing  to  a  gentleman  possible,  and  has  one  of  the  best  tenor  voices 
I  have  ever  heard,  and  plays  the  piano  the  very  best !  The  general 
tone  and  level  of  our  concerts  rises,  as  we  get  more  fresh  men, 
recruited  from  higher  circles,  and  the  mixture  of  the  better  class  song, 
with  a  few  efforts  of  the  very  small  minority  of  old  serving-soldiers  and 
rough  and  tough  nuts,  whom  we  have  left,  is  very  curious. 

We  were  really  quite  sorry  to  leave  the  old  trenches  ;  they  had 
become  much  as  a  home,  and  after  all  the  work  put  into  them,  they  had 
changed  rapidly  from  a  position  of  extreme  and  acute  discomfort,  into  a 
very  passably  comfortable  and  clean  line. 

The  Dardanelles  business  is  capital,  and  the  old  Turks,  from  what  I 
know  of  them,  I  should  think  must  be  panicoing  well  and  will  shortly 
have  internal  strife. 

Do  you  think  we  mean  to  carry  the  business  through  properly  with 
land  forces  co-operating  with  the  Navy  on  the  northern  shores  of  the 
Straits  ?  We  might  even  find  Sir  John  Maxwell  leading  his  army  along 
the  Hellespont !      Mr.   Leo  is  grand,  and  the  January   Nat.   priceless. 

Why  the do  we  let  Von  Bissing  go,  just  after  we  have,  with  extreme 

difficulty,  and  6  months  too  late,  gingered  ourselves  up  into  arresting 
him  ?  For  sheer  folly  and  short-sighted  bungling,  we  do  win  it !  If  I 
have  the  good  fortune  to  see  this  business  through,  there  are  quite  a 
large  number  of  people  who  will  never  "  criss  my  throshold  "  if  I  know 
it.  It  is  a  very  sweet  notion,  our  gay  proletariat  striking  for  |d.  extra 
at  this  juncture,  and  endangering  the  department  with  which  we  have 
most  difficulty,  namely,  supplies  in  general,  and  clothing  and  equipment 
in  particular  ;  the  military  ought  to  have  stepped  in  at  the  beginning, 
but  our  Government  has  always  consulted  the  feelings  of  trades  unions, 
and  such  like  dirty  organizations,  to  such  an  extent,  that  it  will  be 
difficult  for  them  to  deal  with  the  matter  shortly  and  sharply,  as  they 


Please  give  my  very  best  love  to  all  the  family,  and  thank  Giggles 

Douglas  Gordon  for  his  wire  of  congrats. 

Ever  your  loving 


P.S. — Enclosed   is  a  curious  item  ;   the  enemy  7  nights  ago  put  up 

5  little  posts  with  dirty  bits  of  rag,  as  flags,  on  top  half-way  between 

their  trenches  and  mine. 

We  investigated  the  matter  the  night  after,  having  noticed  them  by 

day  ;  we  did  so  extremely  carefully  and   gingerly,  as  I  thought  a  wire 

might  be  attached,  or  explosive.     However,  we  found  each  had  a  little 

bag  tied  on  the  post  with  the  enclosed  inside.1     I  take  it  that  the  enemy 

were  opposite  the    Indians,  some  of  whom   they   captured,   and   they 

wanted  to  show  up  the  result.     Perhaps  you  can  get  enclosed  translated. 

E.  H. 

My  Dearest  Mother, 

Very  short  and  hasty  letter,  as  busy  beyond  words ;  we  have 
moved  again.  Owing  to  possible  hasty  moves,  do  not  expect  regular 
correspondence ;  in  fact,  Field  Service  Postcard  is  the  form  it  will 
probably  take,  and  posts  may  be  very  irregular  from  here.  Please  thank 
Aunt  May  and  Bina  for  kind  letters  of  congrats. ;  also  Uncle  Baa,  and 
say  that  I  will  write  when  possible. 

1  Facsimiles  of  the  enclosed  slips  of  paper  appear  on  the  opposite  leaf.  They  were  German 
proclamations  to  our  Indian  troops,  written  in  Hindustani,  Urdu,  and  a  Punjabi  dialect,  and  have 
been  thus  translated  by  the  kindness  of  Mr.  W.  Barclay  Squire  of  the  British  Museum  : — 

"  Do  not  believe  that  the  Germans  are  your  enemies.  On  the  contrary  they  are  your  friends. 
Those  Sepoys  who  will  be  captured  will  be  sent  back  to  India  and  will  not  be  put  in  gaol.  Those 
who  say  that  the  Germans  are  your  enemies  are  liars." 

f\       W      . \      n       <v  ^s  %  / 

^Vj         <^ ^  a.      Q\ 

M*A  H  i  TjTRl  TTTHT  <3ETJTT  JTTJpr  ^TT^i  TT  ^IJ 



hS-    *■ 

*  « •*         %»/ 

(^r^r*  ^  tv"  ^  3^>  *  -***1  *^T^  «?r^r?  tT^^ 


Lady  Hall,  too,  sent  me  a  most  useful  little  measure  in  centimetres, 
up  to  a  metre  ;  please  convey  best  thanks,  and  say  that  letter  will  follow 
on  first  opportunity. 

After  foul  rain  it  cleared  up  this  morning  early  and  looked  like  being 
a  perfect  day,  though  very  cold.  But  it  was  too  much  to  ask  of  it, 
and  at  the  present  moment  (2  p.m.)  it  is  snowing,  with  a  young  gale 
behind  it. 

Very  best  love  to  you  and  O. 

Ever  your  loving 


P.S. — Have  just  heard  of  big  Russian  success,  so  big  that  I  cannot 
believe  it,  but  hope  that  it  will  mature. 

E.  H. 

March  i$th,  1915. 
Dear  Lady  Hulse, 

I  am  taking  upon  myself  the  sad  duty  of  writing  you  a  few  lines 
to  ex-press  my  deepest  sympathy  for  the  great  loss  you  have  suffered  in  the  death 
of  your  son.  I  will  try  and  give  you  an  outline  of  the  occurrence  as  far  as 
I  have  been  able  to  obtain  it  from  men  who  saw  it. 

We  were  attacking  a  position  held  by  the  enemy  and  had  to  cross  some  open 
plough  to  get  into  some  support  trenches,  and  while  doing  so  the  Commanding 
Officer,  Major  Paynter,  who  was  directing  the  operations,  was  badly  wounded 
and  lay  in  the  open.  Slightly  before  he  was  struck,  your  son  had  gained  cover 
behind  a  shallow  trench,  and  upon  learning  that  the  Commanding  Officer  was 
hit,  without  hesitation  went  to  see  if  he  could  render  him  any  assistance,  and 
in  so  doing  was  killed.     He  died  instantly  and  suffered  no  pain  whatever. 

Of  course  under  the  circumstances  I  feel  it  my  duty  to  write  to  you,  owing 
to  the  Commanding  Officer  being  wounded  ;  otherwise  you  would  have  heard 
from  him  personally. 

Yours  very  sincerely, 


2nd  Lieut. 

No.  7  Stationary  Hospital, 


Dear  Lady  Hulse, 

He  was  a  grand  fellow  that  son  of  yours,  and  I  can  realize  a  bit 

by  my  own  feelings  how  awful  his  loss  must  be  to  you.     He  was  with  me  trying 

to  help  me  when  he  was  hit.     There  was  no  finer  soldier  in  the  battalion,  and 

his  men  would  do  anything  for  him. 

Forgive  this  scrawl.     Wish  could  write  more. 

Yours  sincerely, 


MAP    TO    ILLUSTRATE    THE     RETREAT    OK    THE     2ND     BaTTN.    OF    THE    ScOTS    GUARDS    FROM 
MONS    TO    RoZOY    AND    THEIR    ADVANCE    TO    THE     BaTTLE    OF    THE    AlSNE 

{From  Route  drawn  by  Sir  Edward  Hulse,  Oct.   1914) 

10  5  O 

Miles  i  h  H  N  H  t-T 



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